Pies, an abusive husband, a good doctor… A well baked story!

Of late I have been hooked to Castle, the TV series starring Natahn Fillion and I have been gushing to all and sundry about what a cutie pie he is. So I was steered toward this movie about pies which stars Nathan.
Of course, I started watching it reluctantly. I’d never heard of the film, I am on a diet and the last thing I needed was to watch a film about pies and start craving them. But I was suffering from a massive writer’s block, not much was coming out of the writing effort and the film was downloaded and sitting on my desktop. So, I began watching it.
Right from the get go, the film sucked me into feeling the underlying emotion, maybe it had to do with the fact that it was a bleak Wednesday evening.
The Story:
The Waitress takes us into the life of Jenna, a girl working hard for a living in southern America only to surrender all her money to her abusive husband, Earl. She longs to get out of the marriage, win a pie baking contest and be happy, but when she learns she is pregnant, she feels helpless and desperate. She goes about weighing her options as she invents a new pie each day (I can’t wait to try the bad baby pie and the ‘im having an affair pie’). Her only friends her co-workers. There’s also Old man Joe, a difficult customer who loves Jenna’s pies and is fond of Jenna.
In her quest to be happy and be appreciated, she ends up having an affair with Dr. Pomatter. All the loose ends of Jenna’s life are tied the moment she holds her newborn daughter, and thats the moment where Jenna takes the decisions she had always been putting off.
I’ve always loved films revolving around food or films that use food as a metaphor… The Waitress uses ‘pie making’ ever so adorably to tell us that we can reinvent our lives if we wanted to. It’s a shame that the film never made it to India, but I can understand why. To understand the film, it is important to understand the life in the American south. The America we outsiders see in popular films or TV shows is very different from interior America. It’s hard to understand why a girl like Jenna sticks with her husband even though he’s a jackass without understanding the life in interior America.
Keri Russell does a fine job of taking the audience through the emotions of a pregnant woman who goes from not wanting the baby to deriving the strength to dump her husband from her baby. She effortlessly lets you feel her desperation, helplessness and she makes you fall in love with her pies….
And may I add, I enjoyed mulling over about the film as much as I enjoyed watching it. I love films that seem light hearted and simple but give you a lot to think about… The Waitress is certainly one of those films…
And other films that involve food and are also good food for thought:
Chocolat: The metaphor is just wow!
Julie and Julia: Two women, common factor, food… Their journey
Sideways: It uses wine, but hey… Wine is food…
Ratatouille: Anyone can cook!
… and many more…
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Walk On: we took Bono too seriously!

Day 3:
Mondays are blue, but a different kind of a blue when you wake up in a new country and a completely new city.
Agenda was set. We were seeing 3 apartments, then checking out nani’s school and figuring out the city. Big tension. I don’t know where what is!

Well, I’d forgotten how exciting it is to discover every little corner of the city… To unravel the folds of the character that makes up a city, to create memories at little places or monuments and to slowly fall in love with it’s charm.

In the scorching heat, we lost our way. And in losing ourselves we found little things about South beach, Miami quite amusing.

So anyway. My sense of apartment scouting had gathered rust too. Nanchan made all the calls and scheduled meetings. The first apartment was a little room available 10 blocks from nanis school. We rang the bell and a south American man dressed in a lungi answers the door. Pictures of Ganpati Bappa, Shiva and Buddha greet us along with a wafting scent of agarbatti. Hello, we walked just 10 blocks, how did we end up in India? Apparently, the house was a yoga center with meditation rooms and a huge Radha Krishna idol. ‘we serve vegetarian prasad’ the dude announced. Alright, I looked at nani and we walked out.
She didn’t travel halfway across the globe to live in a wannabe Indian surrounding. So that’s where we said om shanti and moved to the next house. The next one was pretty. It had a courtyard, a good neighbourhood and boy, what floored nanchan was the cute lil fat cat! Nani loved it. Hell, I loved it. Having a nice roommate makes a huge difference too. And that’s why I thought this was a good option.
It was almost 4 and we hadn’t managed to find the time to eat. Snacking kept us going. Thank u mommy 🙂
The third apartment was our last stop.
‘i promise u, after seeing that apartment, we will eat, ok?’ nanya assured me. What, after walking 30 odd blocks through the day my feet were blistered and the stomach was hungry.

So we dragged ourselves down another 8 blocks to see the next one. The neighbourhood was dodgy, one of the roommates I thought was a junkie. Dude! I was worried. Nah, my little sister cannot live here. But I didn’t want to influence her decisions but nani almost agreed. Thank god!
What followed was the most satisfying meal I have ever eaten.

After all the walking, my spicy Italian sub tasted like heaven! Yummm… We walked another 10 blocks and made it back into our hotel room. Funny how a hotel room starts feeling cosy after 3 2 days! Nani took back to craigslisting and I crashed.

Another day, another city. At least we knew our avenues and streets… Sigh, being the older one and pretending to know your stuff is a tough act to pull. Wish me luck?

A recipe, a heirloom and an eyeopener

My grandmom is a phenomenal cook. She makes the most delectable fish curries and all but her true speciality is laddoos. She makes so many awesome laddoos that she has penned a book with 52 recipes of laddoos. And everyone from literary figures to politicians enjoy her laddoos.
And amongst the usual, her speciality is choormyache laddoo not the soft guju variety. They r crunchy and nutty! This one is awesome. It is a difficult difficult laddoo to make. But my grandmom wants to pass the recipe on as a heirloom.
So on my birthday, I argued with her. ‘no u shud not b making laddoos, take rest!’
‘and the taiyyari! I’ll put the paatis on ur head?’
‘i’ll make na!’
‘tond Bagh tujha! If u make them, I’ll give u a lakh of rupees!’
And obv I love being challenged so I jumped in. I don’t want the money. But that recipe is precious and the joy that my grandmom would get out of me learning from her: MasterCard style: priceless!
So on a lazy birthday morning, I dropped the phone and stood next to her as she made the perfect ‘golibandh’ paak (syrup).
‘the true magic is making the paak right and then moulding the laddoos while the mixture is hot. I’m warning you, it will burn ur palms.’
And truly, as we grabbed the mixture, I huffed and puffed. And yet I moulded those laddoos. Tears welled up. ‘why do u go through this? Why?’
‘because u all love eating them’
‘but…’
‘look, while I can, I will make it. It’s not a practical recipe but u will tell ur children and grandchildren about the awesome laddoos ur grandmom made. Bassss’
This woman is phenomenal. She has had a pampered childhood, and yet she sailed my grandfather and my uncles through a rough patch (they, I’m told, were almost bankrupt) that went on forever and now she can afford the lap of luxury but she chooses to make each day a challenege and she loves her kitchen like it were her best friend (she has a 40 yr old gas stove because she can’t bear to part with it ‘it helped me cook thru a lean patch’ is what she says)
Her love has noursihed us, literally. And as I learn the recipe she hopes I will at least recall and relate to my bacha party, I wonder if I would have the tenacity to burn my fingers to make laddoos that my kids would relish? Have we lost the ability to love like there’s no tomorrow? Have we lost the idea of putting other’s joys before ours? And have we lost it because life has been a bit too kind to us? I wonder

Celebrating Love…

“Why are you going to the Queer Azaadi March?” asks a friend. After seeing me drool after SRK, Johnny Depp and Dempsey, she knows I am straight, so it beats her as to why I need to go participate in a cause that’s not mine. I did answer her, but not with something as lame as ‘I support it’. If you are human, have some common sense and sensitivity, you will support it.

The reason I went for the march happens to be a little different. I have a problem with people limiting homosexuality to the sexual aspect and nothing beyond. I have a problem with people not understanding the trauma of breaking the moulds of the society that are designed for the heterosexual majority. I have a problem with the fact that loving someone has to have a conditional clause that they should be of the opposite sex for it to be accepted.

I went because I think love is a beautiful emotion and it can happen between a man and a woman or a man and a man or between a woman and a woman. No matter who it happens between, love is beautiful and there should be no reason for one to hide it in the closet, least of all, because of who they chose to love.

I went to the march to say that I’m sorry. We heterosexuals are a majority and we’ve imposed our choices, our stereotypes on you. I wanted to say that I understand how traumatic it is to come out of the closet and I hope in a few years it will be easier. I wanted to walk the walk and say, you and I can’t be different just because of our sexual orientation. We love and live with passion and hey, everyone chooses who they want to love. How can that make you different?

There’s no I, me, you and them. There’s just us and together we’ll try to make it a better world, a better country (okay okay, I’m still obsessed with MJ, but I mean it!)

By the way, it was awesome to see such a turnout. It has taken us years to come on the streets and celebrate. And I’m damn proud of everyone who showed up in support. Thank you Piu, thank you ever so much for taking us along 🙂

Memories…

Some people touch your lives and it just changes. Some people are always around and they mould you with every touch. And then they go away and you realize that they’ll never be gone. They live within you, with the values they gave you and the stories they created with you. It’s Vivek Kaka’s birthday today. Had cancer not taken him away from us 5 years ago, he’d be a jolly 54 year old today.

I can’t put into words what the guy meant to me. He was my Dad’s best friend, and over time he shared a unique relationship with each person in my family. Be it his love for food, or his passion for books or his taste in music and the list goes on. He was like a hero for us kids. He showed us our first cameras, I tasted my first piece of chicken with him, he came home specially to show me a contraption he knew I’d be excited by-the ipod. This was when iPods were unheard of even in the US. He told me about Wikipedia before it became a reference point for the rest of the world. He gave me issues of the Rolling Stone Magazine from the 80s (the best treasure he’s shared, I still have them). He was my hero. 

One day I insisted on playing my cassette in the car and sang along to ‘Time They’re Changin’ in the back of the car. Dad and Vivek Kaka turned around from the front seat and smiled. “Shakti, you’re into Dylan?” Dad asked with a proud smile. “Welcome to the club,” Vivek kaka said and smiled at Dad. The kinda smile that I hold on to dearly and one of the proud moments of my life. Many discussions about music and Dylan followed. 

He was ahead of his times, all the time. You never saw him angry. He heard everything out patiently. He got excited by silly things that excited me. One fine evening, I decided to narrate the plot of my novel to him. Very few people took my plot as seriously as he did. ‘Register it and write it, don’t give up on it. And don’t tell everyone about your plot. It should be our secret.’ I can’t forget that smile. He believed in my dream even before I knew it was my dream. I finished my novel and it is dedicated to him. I believe it will get published soon too, because he’s up there feeling proud of me. I know he is. 

This is just my thank you note, Vivek kaka, Baba would probably write a book about you, Mama would tell endless stories and Nani would go on smiling talking about the things you told her. Papa still has the box of Tea Rose you bought him and Manuaai still cherishes the way you appreciated her cooking. 

And there are hundreds of people who fondly remember you and treasure your memories.

Here’s to you Vivek kaka… I’ll always celebrate you. You live on in OUR songs, you live on in the conversations we have, we think about you when we cook and we think about you when we look at new gadgets. Thank you for loving us. Thank you…

Jury Fury!

All those who wonder what’s the new page on my blog all about. Get ready to cheer. Your’s truly is now on the jury of Yaymen on twitter. But it’s not just about twitter, in general, I feel that men don’t get the loving they deserve. 

Come on, we love acting all feministic and shunning the fact that we need men, but the truth is, men make life interesting. However powerful we are, men will always stand by our side to just support us. Be it as a friend, brother, father, boyfriend, husband or a plain acquaintance. 

Of course, they sometimes make us fret, worry, angry and all that, but be honest, don’t you love fawning over your boyfriend’s laziness or your dad’s eating habits? Don’t you love that they can’t make a decision without you.

I love it. I love it that my brother calls me to ask me what coffee he regularly drinks at Barista or that my best friend depends on me for directions. I love it that the father and the brother would suspiciously eye any guy who so much as looks in my direction. I love it. 

And if men make me feel so awesome, why sould I be all coy about appreciating them. The male beauty pageants need to go beyond looks. And that’s exactly what Yaymen is all about. Its about appreciating men, thanking them for their love and attention.

Don’t be shy girls, let the men know we cherish them. Because boys might be stupid but men are awesome. 

PS: I dedicate this post to John Abraham in the yellow boxers in ‘Shut up & Bounce’. He takes eye candy to whole new level and he sparked off the Yaymen discussion!

Are Relationships About Love Anymore?

Location: Café Leopold

Time: Around 11 pm

Three girls obviously over-dressed for Leopold’s sitting in one corner. One look at them and you’d know they wanted to go some place fancy but ended up coming to this backpacker central in Mumbai. Glasses clinking, one of the girls’ phone rings. She goes out to take it.

‘That was my boyfriend. He’s so possessive! I am sick of him!’

I was a bit taken aback with that confession. This was the first time I was meeting her and I’d been introduced just about 15 minutes ago. Anyway, the friend with whom she came asked her a bit more about the situation. Turns out the girl had randomly met this guy through common friends and they got slightly infatuated with each other. ‘Four years is too long for an infatuation but!’

The guy was possessive, this girl didn’t know how to break up and that’s why she was in this ‘relationship’ with him. Of course, towards the end of the night we were figuring out some plans for next week and this girl volunteers her boyfriend to drive us around etc. I couldn’t believe it. Of course, me and my friend both asked her why she wasn’t breaking up. Her excuse was that it was ‘Convenient’ and she didn’t know how to break it off.

Convenient. This guy was of a different religion, so no future. He happened to meet her and she happened to end up with him. She hated that he was concerned about her and she says its convenient. For who?

Can she imagine what’d happen to the guy when she dumped him after 4 long years? If there is no future, why get into a relationship anyway?

Is this what our urban relationships are all about? Convenience, ease and boredom. How disrespectful is it to your partner when you publicly acknowledge your hatred for him in the same sentence that you acknowledge them as your partner?

People are dumping the ‘loves-of-their-lives’ for trivial reasons and I wont judge them. At least they’re honest with their partners about their feelings.