Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Playing by the rules

“If you really like the company, but only a third of what you intended to buy,” said my good-on-paper rational investor buddy.

“And why is that?” the stock virgin in me wondered. I was taking lessons from him in the stock market, having noted that this was a good time to join the fray, and wanting to learn from the best.

“For example, X may be a good company, but market sentiment is weak in the near term, so you might see quotational loss,” he explained.

“Hmm…interesting logic,” I said, “Almost sounds like rules of the dating game”

“Ummm… I didn’t quite get that,” said he.

I explain. “If you really like someone, show only a third of your interest. Else you are unnecessarily inflating value and market sentiment.” His face changed colour.

“You do have a point there. You know, I always have trouble hiding my interest. In fact, I’m too simple in matters of the heart, I tend to show my eagerness too soon. Thank god, at least I’m a rational investor,” he sighed.

I found it interesting that for someone who was really good at the logical game of finance, there was a kind of naivety when it came to the dating game. But it’s not just him.

I have been there too, and have always had friends or near and dear ones at any given point, who have had trouble “getting it right”. May be I can see it clearer now that I’m out of the game.

The signs are many - the commonest ones are rapid-fire messaging, missed-calling, being available for a booty call at midnight, constantly readjusting your life to coordinate with the other person, frequent inclusion of said person in your Facebook status updates, incessant tagging and commenting on said person’s photos and walls, slow dancing, kissing, doing shots, hi-fiving, and the whole shebang.

So relationships replete with status messages like, “X is so thrilled that Y is coming back next week” or “X just can’t wait to meet Y” are entering danger zones. As are talks of trosseau and wedding details when there hasn’t been so much as a proposal.

There’s also something to be learnt from the rules of poker here - a game I’m not very initiated in, but I know that it’s defined by the logic of ‘it’s not what you have, but what others think you have.’

So if one of the duo makes the other believe that he/she is the best thing that happened to her/him, well, it’s easy to start believing that.

Coming back to my savvy-in-money-but-not-in-love buddy, we have a deal now—he will teach me money, and I will teach him dating moves. Together we may both get somewhere, although I am not sure either of us will make a killing. But then, you never know.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Aye aye sir!

I have come to realise, through infinite wisdom garnered from eight months of marriage—that the only way to stop the husband from whining about his never-ending wish list is to act supremely excited about whatever he wants, and make it seem like he can get it pronto if he so wishes. I found that the way the male psyche works is that denial gets them into possession mode, while instant gratification makes them lose interest. So when in doubt, say yes! You can always do as you please later, no one is looking

Here are a few tried and tested nuggets, for those who care:

He: Lets get some plants for the balcony.. it will be nice no?

Me of yore: Arched eyebrow followed by the words, “Too high maintenance. Just because you can feed the cat occasionally does not mean you can parent a plant.. it is too much supervision..”

Me now: Is there a particular nursery you’d like to go to? I know this really nice one opposite the Bandra talao.. it will just take us 40 minutes to get there.. shall we go now or on my day off?


****

He: How about we go and buy some nice assorted cheese and olives and make a nice cheese platter? We can also get some lovely wine to go with it and have a romantic dinner..

Me of yore: You know there’s still cheese from last time, plus there is no space in the fridge, nor in the bar for any more wine.. so may be it’s not such a good idea..”

Me now: Excellent idea.. why don’t you go buy it while I set up the table?


****

He: I think our phone is really ugly.. we really need to get ourselves a nice cordless phone..

Me of yore: But we hardly use the landline. Why bother?

Me now: “How cool. I saw a sleek one at Croma. Why don’t you go pick up one and meet me at PVR for a movie later?


****

He: I have been dreaming about this game Elder Scrolls Oblivion for the last three nights. I want it so bad..

Me of yore: But you just bought four games last week! And we had agreed on one game a month, so you have already consumed four months of your quota.

Me now: How cute! Why don’t you go to Alfa and buy two instead? One is from me.. they are open till 9.30 pm, so you still have an hour.


***

He: I need new clothes.. I am running out of shirts to wear..

Me of yore: “What about the 57 shirts, the 246 T-shirts and 22 pairs of jeans that are lying in the closet unworn?

Me now: “Wow, even I’m tired of my clothes. Lets go to Cotton World right now and get you some nice linen pants and then may be we can go to Mango.


****

He: Why don’t we get a Christmas tree and invite all our friends and have a Christmas party?

Me of yore: Where will we put the tree once Christmas is over? And I don’t even have a day off for Christmas! How will we manage?

Me now: What a cool idea! We can easily manage 20 people.. will you go and get the tree?

****

He: You know, we could do with a plasma TV

Me of yore: What for? They show crap on TV anyway.. and in any case, our room is not large enough for a plasma

Me now: Let’s go to Vijay Sales right now.. it will still be open, and they might have some offer going for sure.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pulse fiction

It is that time of the year when dried pulses (various) are making a comeback—amongst other things, vegetables have become so dear that it is currently inducing the fiscally wise like yours truly to adopt hi-protein legume diets, Atkins or no Atkins (the last I checked, it appeared that it was cheaper to be a fruitarian) Suddenly, the husband’s coldcuts were seeming cheaper than my tomatoes and cauliflower.

Since it breaks my heart to buy veggies by the quarter of a kilo and since potatoes and onions don’t exactly a wholesome meal make, I began to explore legumes, a produce hitherto neglected by me-with-a-fetish-for-everything-fresh.

For one week, I am going the pulse route, I decided. A world of low fat, high fibre, no cholesterol, low glycemic index, high protein, high nutrients option at a remarkably low cost.

Until recently, my pulse odyssey was limited to rajma and chholey, apart from that great south Indian contribution, adai (but more about that in another article). It took me a while and a lot of minimization to perfect the recipes for the former two, but I finally culled out a simple, but great one for rajma from CY Gopinath’s blog (courtesy Guru da Dhaba in Lokhanwala) and the one for chholey which does not involve a million masalas from my Futura cookbook, an acquisition with my Futura cooker, courtesy the m-in-law’s last visit.

In my week of living with the beans, I also tried a moong kadhi, an olan, hummus, a chickpea and aubergine stew, a rajma salad and various adai mixes.

Of course childhood memories of the mother doling out a regular dose of a chowli-yam-raw banana-eggplant-concoction in tamarind gravy (puli-kutthi-kuttu, she called it) come flashing back. I never really acquired a taste for it, but it was an existential yet wholesome meal, to say the least. I could never tell if it was a main course or an accompaniment—so overwhelming was the veggie to gravy ratio.

My favourite pulse starrer is still the olan (the one with white pumpkin and red beans). It is subtly flavoured, yet satiating, and easy on the palate. I can eat it by itself, although rasam rice goes every well with it.




Hummus


Chickpeas: 200 gms

Juice of two lemons

Olive oil – one tablespoon

Garlic – 6-7 cloves

Tahini paste (optional) one tbsp

Salt to taste



Method:

Soak chickpeas overnight, and remove loose skins if any. Pressure cook till soft. Cool. Drain cooking liquid and set aside.

Grind the chickpeas and the chopped garlic to the right level of coarseness, adding the cooking liquid for consistency.

Now, squeeze the juice of the lemons into the ground chickpeas and mix well. Add a dollop of tahini paste (available at gourmet food shops or supermarkets) and mix well, adding salt to taste. Add the olive oil and mix well.

Garnish with chilli flakes or chopped parsley and serve chilled. Can be stored for a week.

(Works well as a dip or a sandwich spread, with lavash, pita bread or even crackers for a quick hunger fix. )

Tip: If you want to make your hummus more exciting, try adding a few pickled jalapenos to the chickpeas while serving.




Moong kadhi

Whole moong: 1 small cup, soaked

Curd

Turmeric powder

Chilli powder

Salt

Sugar

Besan



For the tempering

3-4 cloves of crushed garlic



Method:

Soak the whole moong for half and hour and pressure cook well with a pinch of salt.

In a pan, whisk 250 gm of curd, two teaspoons of besan, a pinch of turmeric, a pinch of chilli powder, salt to taste and a pinch of sugar. Mix well, breaking lumps formed, if any.

Now add the boiled moong to it, and enough water to have a kadhi like consistency and bring to a boil. Switch off gas.

For the tempering: Heat one teaspoon oil and fry the crushed garlic till light brown and pour over the kadhi

Serve hot with rice and papad.









Olan

White pumpkin ¼ kg

Red chowli 100gms

Green chillies – 2

Salt to taste

Coconut oil for garnish



Method:

Skin the white pumpkin and cut into 2’ x 2’’ slices of 1 cm thickness. Wash well.



Now soak the red chowli for half an hour and pressure cook it with a pinch of salt till well done, but still whole and not mashed



In a kadhai, transfer the white pumpkin add some water, salt to taste and cook on a slow flame.



Crush two green chillies and add them to the pumpkin, mixing well.



When the pumpkin is nearly cooked, add the cooked chowli into it, stirring well.



Drizzle some fresh coconut oil over the olan for the authentic south Indian touch(optional)



Serve hot with rice, sambar or even chapatis. Or just eat it neat, like I do.

She’s got the look

A cousin of mine has shaved her head off for a velvety look. The minute I saw her Facebook picture, I thought to myself, “How cool.. I’d like that!” I thought it would be a nice way to grow out the grays, and to check whether, if I had to start all over again, would my hair still come out as curly and stubborn? Or will I have those locks that toss at will? It would also be a great way to stop the cat from getting into my hair (yes, she does) when I am trying to sleep.

The best part is, my mother can no longer say, “Do whatever you want after you are married.” I thought about it, and decided otherwise. It’s taken far too long for me to grow out my curly locks, post my drastic snip over a decade ago. Besides, it also increased my pulling power exponentially, so why would I want to tamper with that? I also realised, that unlike my gorgeous sister, I didn’t have the chiseled looks to carry off a short crop. So more hair worked better for me than more face.

I remember after years of oiling, washing, drying, re-oiling and plaiting, when I finally chopped my tresses in the early 90s and got myself a Fido Dido look (remember him?), my mother wailed, “At least you should have waited till you got married. She sulked for months, years, shed many a silent and sometimes a loud tear. I grunted some more and chopped it off even further, to resemble Sinead O Connor, secretly thinking, “No Muthuswamy or Ramakrishnan will ever marry me now.. good riddens!”

And they didn’t. But eventually, I got tired of my high-maintenance hair cut. Rs 500 for the cut every four weeks, plus products that cost an arm and a leg. Also Raul Miranda moved to New York, and with him, the only hairdresser that went into raptures over my hair and didn’t ask me to thin it (grrrrrr) or straighten it (eeeeks!)

Long is sexy, I decided. Men seemed to agree, and I never had a longer line of suitors as I began to let my hair down. Finally, I picked one, and no prizes for guessing that it wasn’t a Muthuswamy. But finally the prissy aunts who once scoffed at my shaven nape were now all agog and approving of my suitable man and my bridal ‘avatar’.

Looking back, I think the hair was just a metaphor. What had actually happened was that I had fallen in love with myself, all over again!

So now, my heart goes out to my little cousin, who after making a few wrong choices is starting all over again. I don’t know what ripples she has created and the extent of melodrama happening at her house as I speak, but all I can say is, “Go girl, go! I love the look! And I love you for being the ‘me’ that was!”

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Coochie booooo..

“Hang up now.. I have to go back to work..”

(No, you hang up..)

“No.. you..”

(You..)

“You..”

Have you ever eavesdropped on such a conversation?

A strange phenomenon has begun to envelop the office, at least the estrogen-rich half of it. I heard somewhere that women who work together tend to coincide their biological cycles, but this is getting a bit far. I am talking about women in my working habitat coinciding their cooing cycles. Nothing wrong with that, except they are choosing to do it in the privacy of the ladies loo.

And people like me with small bladders are bearing the brunt of it. Okay, when I gotta go, I gotta go, and sipping goblets of herbal tea infusions does catalyse my ‘going there’ a lot. But these days, I am increasingly irked by the queue outside the ladies loo (even though there are four of them, and at least three that work).

Pray why? It’s not that everyone is under the influence of diuretics or anything. And it’s not winter either. The ladies are just taking their time, as they are cooing sweet nothings on the phone to their sweet somethings and choosing the loos as their boudoirs for doing so.

Call me a practical, no-frills type, but I find such conversations very amusing. And the body language, dulcet tones and sometimes accents accompanying them, even more so.

I am not saying this in a “been there, done that” voice, because I have never been a phone person, even in my giddy 20s.

So even though I have been through the nerdy boy phase and the cadaverous poet phase and the bad boy phase and the cute boy phase and every other phase one can go through before one “settles down”, I never went through the cooing-on-the-phone-for- hours phase. (Though I have done my bit of letters/email/sms flirting, but gushing over the phone is something I never graduated in.)

When I did try the phone-flirting for a lark—after getting suitably excited by the thought of sounding husky and dulcet on the phone (which never happens unless I have a cold), was when I cracked up with laughter. It so wasn’t me!

So phone-fixated boyfriends had to be dropped, as I was more a face-to-face kinda girl. In any case, after spending an evening with your boyfriend—what’s there to talk, was my point. So if he did call, I would be like, “Oh my god, we have to talk again!” Also I was never the type who needed to hear ‘his’ voice the last thing before going to bed and the first thing on waking up. And the last place I wanted to coochie-coo was in a work environment, and I wouldn’t understand what business men would have calling their women at 12 pm on a working day. And if the husband does call and asks whether he can have 30 seconds, I feel like saying that his 30 seconds are already up.