the month gone by was not much different from what i had expected at the time of my previous post, with other things taking precedence over the blog. i think this is how things are going to be for the rest of the year, with so much stuff having my mind preoccupied. just doing what is absolutely necessary seems to be a big deal by itself.
today, however, i quickly grabbed my camera on a sudden whim. i happened to be catching up with some school friends after many years over whatsapp, and i was telling one of them that her family's native town was the same one in which my parents & aunts had spent their childhood - karaikudi, in tamilnadu, south india. (one of my aunts still lives there, while my dad moved out after he graduated and got a job.)
karaikudi is best known for the community of 'nagarathars' or 'nattukottai chettiars' who have made the region their home for centuries. traditionally traders and businessmen, their huge family homes and the antique treasures brought back from their travels that fill them, are sure to keep any vintage enthusiast happy for a lifetime. their unique customs and traditions, weddings, jewellery, food, hand-made tiles, architecture in their sprawling homes & temples, are all extremely fascinating.
in recent times, the smaller nuclear families moving all over the world have resulted in many of the huge homes left empty for most of the year, and many of the heirlooms are sold away in antique shops. from palm leaf baskets to wood, glass, enamel, tin, brass, and lacquer - the variety of materials and the amount of stuff made out of them are simply mind boggling - some made closer to home by master craftsmen, others collected and brought home by the menfolk who travelled the world. chettinad antiques are a league of their own.
so - to cut short what could be an endless preamble, and come to today's picture - it is a small glass jar which i picked up in one of the antique stores in karaikudi some years back, during a visit. i generally dont pick up very huge pieces since we move a lot. (a lot, as in every year.) so this was just one of those perfect little knick-knacks which i could take wherever i wanted to. its an orange-amber coloured glass jar, just about 3 inches wide and almost similar in height. right now i use it hold some petroleum jelly on my nightstand (which i scoop out from the bigger container it came in) .
one of the most unique characteristics about chettinad antiques is that they would have the family initials engraved on it - whether its their most expensive item of silverware or the smallest item in daily use. so you can see the initials, in tamil script on this one too - (it says "mu. mu. thu")
if you are in the mood for a visual treat, click on the image search result for "chettinad antiques" and prepared to be spell bound :)
highs and lows, up and downs... in many ways life is like a ferris wheel... where your position changes from high to low in a blink. where the view keeps changing. where its as much pointless to worry about the lows, as it is to gloat over the highs, and the only thing one can do is to enjoy the ride, as a whole.
yeah, life changes before you know it. its one roller-coaster ride where you feel powerless as it takes you up and down, round and round, and cant do much except hang on tight. and hope you go back home safe and sound, even if shaken and stirred. hope. its all we have, isn't it ? its what keeps us going each day.
this is a picture of a ferris wheel (or giant wheel as its sometimes called) toy - it belongs to a variety of indian wooden toys called channapatna toys, made in the indian state of karnataka. i got this on a trip to mysore. these are handmade and vibrantly colourful. read one my earlier posts on channapatna toys here.
i think im using my camera today after a long gap of more than two months... and the next couple of months will probably find me quite busy, with my finger in many pies... so im expecting posts to be very sporadic again here. hmmm... (unless of course by some miracle i turn really proactive and schedule them in advance or become very organised enough, that i find time to blog in the midst of chaos. which has hardly ever been the case, going by past evidence.)
there is something about september and october - i always seem to have a love-hate relationship with these moths for quite some years now.
the love part is that it brings one of india's most colourful festivals - navrathri or dussehra - which is celebrated in different ways in different parts of the country, but each no less festive and colourful than the others. the 9 night/10 day festival came to an end last weekend.
in tamilnadu, which is my home state, it is celebrated with a colourful 'golu' - a display of dolls over the 10-day period, arranged in odd-numbered steps. girls and women dress up in their finest, and daily rounds to visit neighbours, friends, and family are common, where they are given a snack of sundal , along with the traditional offerings of turmeric, sandal & kumkum, betel leaves, coconuts/bananas, and often, a small return gift or favour.
seen above, part of a set of nesting dolls
new dolls are often added to the family's collection, with the more creative women coming up with 'themes' for their displays each year ! the dolls are lovingly and carefully wrapped and packed off at the end of 10 days until next year. this is one of my most favourite festivals, with fond memories from my younger days...
the dolls above are called the 'chettiar dolls' - the chettiar doll and his wife are traditionally considered shopkeepers/grocers, and are usually displayed with rice and lentils spread out in little containers before them, signifying the 'shop'. this particular version has a detachable head, so that you can turn them to face any direction !
and now, whats the hate part you ask ? in the past several years, september/october has also been the month in which we invariably move or inevitably travel, every year. which has not only resulted in me not having a golu of my own, but also makes me end up very stressed these months.
so while everyone everywhere is either in the midst of festivities or enjoying the beauty of fall/autumn around them, i am running around clueless with a house looking like this -
yeah, i know, not pretty to show in public. but thats how it is. clothes. cartons. bubblewrap. packingtape. everywhere. not something that i particularly look forward to, but have come to accept as a part of my lifestyle :) and i have every reason to believe that i'll be going through the same again, in a few weeks.
India should probably be called the fried snack capital of the world. There are so many varieties of fried sweets and savoury snacks, that even if you have been living in india your whole life, you probably wouldnt have tasted them all. each state and region has so many varieties of its own.
the photo below is an old one i took in 2012. it is a brass mould which is used to make different varieties of savoury snacks. it is in two cylindrical parts, with 4-5 changeable discs that go in the bottom cylinder. much like a piping/icing bag with different shaped nozzles for frosting cakes, the discs are of different shapes, with a star, small rounds, rectangle, etc. the dough in the bottom cylinder is pressed by the top cylinder into hot oil, to be fried. there are so many different varieties of snacks, like 'omapodi, thenkuzhal, mullu murukku/mullu thenkuzhal, ribbon pakoda' in tamil and 'chakli' in north india...
the moulds/press come in many variants these days, and more commonly in stainless steel, but i just have a major crush on brass :)
the beginning of august generally marks the advent of the indian festival calendar, with summer fading away and the rainy months ahead. a steady stream of festivals begin from mid-or-end august usually, and everyone is in the mood for the aroma of a lot of fried oil and bubbling jaggery syrup :) thats one thing about traditional indian sweets - since most of them use jaggery instead of refined sugar, they are a much better option if you have a sweet-tooth. there should seriously be a movement for the revival of these sweets like kozhukkatai (modak), appam, adhirasam, seeyam (or suzhiyan), vella seedai, sojji appam, pori urundai, poli, etc etc. the only downside being many of these have to be fried.
still, the months from august to december are the best time to be part of an indian household - it'll soon be time for the murukku mould to come out of hiding :)
whats up with ad film makers these days ? between a guy riding a bike across polar ice caps to catch the northern lights, and a woman who cooks a four course meal on a weeknight after coming home from work - i dont know which one is more improbable. in case you havent seen it yet, i'll let you have the epic-facepalm-experience without further spoilers. we'll catch up below the video.
yeah. that totally unexpected twist in the climax where the boss is the wife - i bet you did not see that coming. there are so many things that bother me about this that i dont know where to begin.
here is an indian couple where both obviously have well paying jobs, who have a driver but no cook at home.
ok, she decides to make it up to the husband for the extra work he is doing. the only way to do it is through food - because, you know, the usual heart-through-the-stomach thing. it never gets old. not even if you could afford to try sexy lingerie or expensive booze. all that is, ofcourse, against our 'kulchar'.
so food it is. but it doesnt occur to her on a weeknight to get take-out on the way home. or order pizza. seriously, who made her the boss ?
goes home. doesnt pick something from the freezer and heat it up. not even a packet of MTR instant-something. nope. peeling, cutting, chopping, stirring, straining, steaming, all from scratch. oh, the lengths to which she goes for her man. on a weeknight. hence proving that she has lived up to the description her parents gave in her matrimonial ad, of being professionally qualified and domestically accomplished.
she video calls the poor fellow slogging away at work and asks him to come soon, when she knows very well that she was the one who insisted on getting things done just a short while ago. this woman seriously has some issues. or she takes the word 'bossy wife' very seriously.
lastly, i hope the other guys working for her also have wives who are equally good cooks, since she has no plans of ordering the rest of her team food, despite having asked them to stay late. ( i dont know who'll do the work if all the guys in the team leave early, enticed by home-cooked food. i am bothered that that doesnt bother her as a boss.)
i fail to see the moral of the story here. what exactly were they trying to convey ? that if you have a smartphone, you can be/should be slipping effortlessly from devil-wears-prada to domestic-goddess mode ?
its a crying shame how weekends always go by in a flash. im sure all of us agree that time travels fastest between friday evening and sunday night, regardless of what physicists around the world may say.
nevertheless, if your day feels a little slow, nothing better than to get on pinterest, and before you know, several hours would have gone down the drain. but its the best addiction to have, and one that has no cure.
and this weekend i indulged myself with - my new " i ♥ ikea " board on pinterest - :) i hope to keep adding more ikea products that i like, as well as ikea hacks, and spaces with ikea decor. so keep peeping in every now and then or follow the board if you are on pinterest !