There was a time in my childhood when I vowed I would never live in a place that is as hot as Madras.  In May, the walls would radiate heat, and my father would insist that I sleep on a mattress while I would yearn to lie on the cool cemented floor of my ancestral house.  When I got admission to go to Syracuse, my relatives from America pitied me for going to a cold cold place and I thought “oh, it must be such a relief to be away from hot hot Madras, even if briefly”.

I totally enjoyed my first winter up until February, in Syracuse. And then I realised that cold could be just as irritating as hot, if not more so.  I was disappointed at myself for being the mediocre person who could only tolerate moderation in everything.  And then after hither-thithering, I was back in my home town.  In my first summer back home, it was hot, but not as hot as I remembered it.  Was it that my hypothalamus became more sluggish with age ?

I definitely think so.  In the ten years that I have been here as an adult, I have made my peace with sun god.  Yes, the unbelieveably humid, sweaty, migraine inducing sun god of our coastal city.  I can immediately feel the difference in heat as I visit my husband’s hometown which is further inland, and thus not 4357% humid as Chennai is, in that my nostrils burn and I am dehydrated to the point of sunstroking no matter how much water I drink.    Not that I don’t grumble about the humidty or heat or usualy both – I do, nonstop.  But secretly, I would much rather have the heat to the nose-numbing, muscle pulling cold of elsewhere.

Yes most people don’t agree with me.  “There is no limit to the number of clothes you can wear to ward off the cold, but there is  a limit to the number of clothes you can take off to cool yourself” is a common refrain.  But the joy of tender coconut water, afternoon curd rice with vadumangai, all types of mangoes, water melons and icecreams, not to mention pool dips and beach visits balance (if not outweigh) the pains and itchy prickley heat of summer.  And the flowers.  Let’s not forget the flowers, the fragrant jasmine, the chmapangis, the hibiscus flowers…..

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My kid’s hypothalamus however does not agree with me.  The following cartoon drawn by my daughter last summer, sums up our internal dynamics w.r.t. to our approach to the hot season!


Dinner is served

You know how they say breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dine like a pauper?  We make modifications here and there, in that there are days, such as deadline-afflicted two months during which time we eat every meal like paupers, and others when we dine like monarchs.  The latter is often a result of the emptiness and existential thoughts (“now that my deadline is over, of what use is life?”) after brain-frying two months, which end in shameless ogling at food blogs that makes me want to bring the world into my kitchen, never mind the absence of any kind of culinary prowess.

The easiest of course would be Italian.  But given that pastas are now part of a regular meal in the household, it is not quite as exotic as it was a few years ago.  Pizza…eh…the alimentary canal does not take cheese as well as it used to in days of youth and well, pizza is hardly novelty either given that a phone call can bring cardboard flavoured pizzas to our doorstep at the cost of a kidney.

Mexican could have been an option but that was before we discovered the TexMex joint at the mall in our backyard that makes any home-made Mexican fairly lame.

Chinese, possible, but not quite in the mood for soy.

So, quoting Lenard of TBBT, thinking outside but pressed right up against the box, I settled for Greek.  After a few hours salivating over Greek vegetarian recipe pages, it was decided unanimously by me that Tourlou Tourlou would be the dish of the day, not as much for what the dish itself is, but for the cuteness of its name.  The fact that it was nothing but Ratatouille’s Greek avatar was the castor sugar on the doughnut.

The recipe called for baking slices of brinjal (aka eggplant aka aubergine), zuchini, squash, tomato, onions et. al in a sauce of tomato and basil.  Given that our family is not a great fan of brinjal, I bypassed it, added a little more than recommended amount of sauce to suit our sambar- and rasam-coditioned gustatory calyculi and baked it in my make-shift microwave-convection-oven combination thingummy which was promised by the salesperson to be smart enough to win the next Nobel. I am yet to learn how to use it for baking cake without converting it to a dry mass of flour and sugar (convection current really really dries stuff placed in it), but on the up-side, it makes awesome, oil-free French fries. 

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Let’s just say the Greek know how to live !

Of course. what is a holiday meal without dessert?  What started off as apple pie, was converted by my dehydrating microwave convection oven into an apple cobbler, but hey, who’s complaining?


Washed down with a cuppa chamomile.


And we are done !

So ist das Leben

Throughout Jan and Feb, the background thought had been “when my deadlines for the season are finally over on 25th Feb, I will (sequentially of course) get done with the backlog work (reviews, bills, etc.) close down my system, clean my kitchen, organize my clothes cupboard, drink a barrel of chamomile tea, curl up with a Wodehouse and go for a mid morning walk soaking in the brief spring of our area in all its brilliant glory.

The deadline got done a couple of hours ago.  The backlog work that had been simmering in the back burner continues to simmer, the weather is glorious outside, where I am not, the kitchen is messy, as is my clothes cupboard, and what do I do?

Spend one hour surfing the net on ways to remove calluses from feet.

Tsk Tsk.

When was the last time you were overwhelmed? I am today…

Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer

Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.

On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.

This will involve audacity, clarity and plain speaking; trying to straighten my accounts with the world. But there will be time, too, for some fun (and even some silliness, as well).

Will I be able to depart with such elegance? What an inspiration !

Thanks Suman, for the link.