Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Two Ariyunda Days

I lost track of time in no time. Therefore there are no dates for my days with Vai Vow in Kozhikode. One day i decided to make ariyunda (a sweet rice ball with coconut and jaggery). I loved this snack. Sethuvamma's ariyundas were the best. Recently i noticed that they were at sale in most confectionery shops. I once had one of them and realized it was nowhere close to what we made at home. So it was that Vai Vow and i approached Sujatha that day.

Sujatha was the new mixer grinder at home. Sethuvamma had got rid of her beloved meenu mix and got Sujatha. So great was her grief about Meenu that i felt it was a member of the family. Why are mixer grinders always given female names like is the case with hurricanes and malayalam fonts?

Vai Vow said that the name Sujatha had a story. Vai's editor Lodhi had two imaginary characters in his room. One was 'doctor' and the other was Sujatha. I was very impressed with this concept. I am always impressed with madness. Sujatha in our kitchen but let us down that day. It just didn't grind the matta rice to a powder. I was so disappointed but Vai said that he would eat whatever was the outcome. Still i felt pathetic with the rice balls which looked so sad with the visible crumbs.

Then one day when i was thinking of elephants i thought may be it was not Sujatha after all. It was me. I had used normal rice. It would have been ground properly if i had used broken rice perhaps? I rushed to the Reliance store nearby and looked if they had broken matta rice. They did. So it was time for Ariyunda. With bated breath i roasted the broken rice. I gave the spatula to Vai and asked him to stir and he was quite intrigued when the rice made sounds and shrunk in size. Then i approached Sujatha. Grrrzzzzzz.... said she and lo! i had my fine rice powder. Absolute bliss!

This time i only had to click the picture of the rice balls because the rest had been clicked the last time. Vai was surprised at the difference the texture of just one ingredient made in the 'final product'. He loved the ariyundas and i was happy. I myself found that it was exactly like Sethuvamma's, may be a little better. Vai rolled a few of them and as usual named the smallest one 'chintu'.

I was on top of the world that day and forgot all about elephants.

You can get the recipe here. I don't like cashew nuts in my ariyundas so made it without them.

June 2015: Films

When Father was Away on Business: Emir Kusturica (1985)

Lovely. Lovely.
Sleepwalking boy. Debauchery of father. Communism. The wife.
The first time the boy sleepwalks and is seen on a bridge. Mother we follow with track shot and then in a two shot we see the boy walking into her open arms, sleepwalking still.
Use of music. All diegetic. How the boy runs to the mother and tries to protect her when the father beats her up.
The love affair. How he sleepwalks into the girl's bed and sleeps there. The girl.
His cuts. The connected images from two scenes. 

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Faluda, Feluda etc.

On Saturday we went to the beach. Vai-Vow and I both loved it. It was a different experience for me even though I had been there many times. I realized it was not the same sea.
Usually when I go there I walk from one end of the road to another munching on roasted peanuts, salted mango, pineapple and guava (calicut has the reputation of putting anything into salted water, vinegar and chillies) and in the end have masala tea at Alibhai's Thattukada. This time I was in the mood for faluda. 

When I went to Calico Centric with kappa he asked me if Kolkata was known for faluda too. I said no. He asked me then why it was that Satyajit Ray had named his sleuth faluda. I laughed and said that it was Feluda and not faluda. He gave an embarrassed smile and pleaded that I not say it to anybody. So I thought I'll write about it. ;-) 

Speaking of Feluda, after reading the first book of 'The Complete Feluda' I had bought a tee shirt from Anand bookstall in Gariahat which had 'Feluda and Com.' written on it along with drawings of the three main characters. Some months ago I realized that it was not in my cupboard any longer. A Facebook status asking people on campus to return it if found also proved to be useless. It was Pal, batchmate from Cinematography who told me where to get the shirt. I had spotted her wearing one. When i put up the status she told me that she had lost her shirt too. Then she said that it was possible that Feluda from both our shirts had gone to solve a mystery.
A month later she got her shirt back. I did mine too, the day I had faluda with Vai Vow at 'Hollywood' ice cream parlour, Calicut beach. May be Calico was right. There was something between falu-da and Felu-da. 

faluda at 'Hollywood', Kozhikode beach
The beach was almost eaten up by the sea. Vai said that he liked areas which had less number of people. So even though it was not crowded we went to a secluded portion in South Beach. There it rained. We walked more ahead to another area where one could see the pillars from the time it was a port. Vai and I were there for a long time doing nothing. Then it rained again. It was windy too this time and I realized that my pretty little pink umbrella was very flimsy. It was threatening to break. Vai and I clicked pictures of each other trying to battle the rain. Two men were fishing. They got nothing.

vai vow at the sea, calicut
me battling the rain. click: vai vow

I longed for tea. Vai showed no sign of getting up. He asked me if I was bored. I wasn't bored but I had to have tea when I had to have tea. So we went to 'Papa's and Mama's'. He had good coffee and I had obnoxious tea. I hate it when they give tea bags. Vai Vow had an unnakkaya.
We had our faluda and returned home. It was a great day. Tiring too.

vai's unnakkaya at 'Papa's and Mama's', Calicut

What we didn't know then was that the sea had come home with us. 

Friday, 19 June 2015

Ada ada ada: When Classmates Met (PITFB)

In Kozhikode I always run into people I know. It's as natural as it is uncomfortable for me. First there is the wonderment at seeing some person when you are least expecting it. Then there is the problem of what to say. If the other person is a loquacious kind I'm saved. Otherwise I end up asking 'what do you do now' a couple of times and succumb to awkward pauses. 

My classmate and friend, Vai Vow was coming to Kozhikode that day. It was his first journey to the south of India. He was from Amravati, Maharashtra. I had invited a lot of my classmates home but most of them were as lazy as I was and so didn't make it. Vai did.
I had decided I would make ada for him. This was because Calico couldn't eat the kappa I made him because it was bad for his tummy and I felt I had to make him something he liked. I would make six. Three for Vai and three for Calico. 

I had made it once in the institute and had given it to NN and Hari. I had burnt the jaggery then and I burnt it this time too. And like how all people say, I loved the burnt taste. Next time i am sure to get it right and the shape and texture too. Taste-wise i am more than happy. Recipe again from Mishmash, the food haven.

The filling

I kept the tiffin box of adas at Calico's door, on his backless washing machine, to be precise, (yes, he has a backless washing machine propped up outside his house) I caught a bus to the railway station. There I met two people I knew.

Jeenachechi used to give me math tuition when I was in high school. Pooja was her daughter. They had returned from Kannur, where Pooja was studying. I asked her what her course was and forgot her reply immediately. Then someone patted me on my back. It was Vai. I let out a shriek and started laughing. He laughed too. It was the most absurd thing for both of us. We would never have imagined that we'd meet in Kerala. 

I was relieved I could take leave of Jeenachechi and Pooja. Vai and I proceeded out of the station to have our first tea together in Kozhikode. After tea he bought himself an umbrella like we had decided earlier. That was one thing he would need while in Kerala in June. 

When we reached home I gave him ada and he liked it. I was happy. My days as a host was starting. I was tense. Also excited. I didn't know what to do. Two film students stuck with each other is more awkward than silences in my opinion.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

PITFB: When Kozhikode Joined FTII in its Protest

On 17th June 2015 a group of youngsters who joined hands through social media organized a protest meeting in solidarity with FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) at Mananchira. I went. Back in Kolkata SRFTI (Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute of India) had already held protest meetings. It was in solidarity with FTII and also against the changes in syllabus and in particular to save the playback project for the junior batches. FTII had protested against the appointment of Mr. Gajendra Chauhan as its Chairperson. Mr. Chauhan's only claim for eligibility for the post seemed to be that he played Yudhishtir in Mahabharata series. Apart from this he was also busy being an active Narendra Modi supporter and making promotional videos? for the P.M. Clearly, the aim was to saffronize the school. We couldn't let that happen. A huge majority of people in these two film schools were ones who had cinema as their passion. Most of us believed in freedom of expression and independent film making. We respected art. We hated propaganda.

When i saw my classmates and fellow film mates sing and shout in protest i felt restless at home, Kozhikode. The next day SRFTI ans marched to JU (Jadavpur University) and students there too joined. Eminent film makers from the city who were also alumni of FTII joined the rally. I couldn't sleep. The next day i saw on social media that a group of people were organizing a similar protest in Mananchira and that another one of the same kind was going to be held at Kochi. I felt proud. I liked it also because these were not film students, but only people who genuinely understood how serious the matter was and felt the need to resist it.

Sky was overcast even at 3:45 p.m. A small group of people were sticking signs on a cloth which was wrapped around the base of statue of S.K Pottekkad.There were some familiar faces.

By the time i had a coffee and two teas and came back at 5 p.m Shahabaz Aman, renowned composer and ghazal singer was there. We circled the park singing, raising slogans against fascism and asking Gajendra Chauhan to 'go back'. After reaching S.K again several people spoke of the need to resist saffronization of art, history etc across the country. Among them were film makers like Gopal Menon and Anil Kumar. Mr. Anil Kumar spoke of how farcical it was that Mr Chauhan 'assured' that his politics wouldn't be propagated while he was chairperson. He said that his appointment itself meant his politics and was a sign of how it was going to be spread on campus. Shahabaz Aman sang 'Zammilooni', a song from the film 'Annayum Rasoolum'. He said that he chose it because of its director Rajiv Ravi, acclaimed cinematographer and director who had earlier expressed solidarity with the strike at FTII.

Shahabaz Aman sings Zammilooni

It rained intermittently. People sang and spoke through it. It felt good.

I am yet to arrange artists for my playback (Play it the F**k Back or PITFB) project. This is more important as of now. Politics is inseparable from art and this has to be made clear in all ways possible. All art was political and that was why artists had to be responsible. We shall not let it be engulfed by Sangh Parivar goons. June was approaching its end. The next day, Vai, my classmate was going to arrive. I was excited and equally scared. I was a terrible host and the house was a mess.

Play it the Eff Back: At Home and Brooding, and Cooking for Calico. Yo!

So on saturday i felt like cooking. Decided to make kappa (tapioca) erissery for Calico and his wifey. He in turn would give me my evening tea. Nice deal. I love kappa. Always loved what Sethuvamma made at home. She used to make us kappa with simple seasoning to eat with yummilicious and hot chilly chutney (mulakuchammanthi). With kappa erissery which was kappa with ground coconut paste she would give us fish curry. It's a combination made in food heaven. Mouth waters even as i type.

The day before Calico had bought me my favourite chicken biriyani from Paragon, Calicut's busiest restaurant. After food he took me to their bakery and treated me to Kashmiri halwa which i was having for the first time. It wasn't great, but was not bad either. So it was pay back time too, for Calico's biriyani treat.

chicken biriyani at paragon

Kashmiri halwa

I am an erratic cook. I cook when i feel like it not when i am hungry. I don't have a family to feed so i don't have to be a responsible cook. I didn't make fish curry or even a chutney to have with kappa. Calico would definitely have some pickle at his den, i said reassuringly in my head.

At Kolkata i never got kappa. Once when NN went to Bombay, where her home is, she got me kappa from a malayali store there. That was our first kappa in Kolkata. I had overcooked the kappa that time and wanted to get it right this time at home. I did.

The recipe from one of my favourite food blogs, Mishmash, was the same as Sethuvamma's and that was what i always used. I crushed the coconut with my hands because like i said my cooking is rather bizarre and i was lazy to find the lid of the mixer jar. Hand crushing works just fine.

Cooking at home is the best thing. You have everything you want at your disposal. Only have to step out to get curry leaves. Have a vaakkathi (a big knife which is great for breaking coconut shell) in your kitchen to break coconut. A coconut scraper fixed to the kitchen slab. Bah! As a Bengali would exclaim.

When i went to calico with my kappa i realized that he didn't eat it. It was not good for his tummy. So i gave it to his wifey and his parental home and had a lot of his tea and left to buy some gold (within Rs 1000 to wear in my many ear piercings. Like stingy mother, like stingy daughter) from Bhima. Got just what i wanted in Rs 990. Ah, precision, i say.

It was a kappalicious day and i felt good. For some time. As for the work regarding our Playback project (where a track has to be played back during shoot. In a very narrow sense, a song picturisation) which i call the play it the fuck back project, i did nothing. I was just being at home and alone. I liked it that way. D Jeet was happy with this arrangement too. He always liked it when i was at a distance from him. I wonder if it's just me or all cinematographers prefer it that way with their directors. I hope it's the latter but know that it's the former. :)

kappa erissery
Note to self: Need to get a good camera as soon as possible to get the colours right. Food in wrong colours is a sad sight. Hmmph.