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I loved nani’s aam ka achar and now I can never have enough of mum’s aam and nimbu ka achar. My niece and I often enter into fun squabbles on who has more in her home! I let her win, parting away with ‘my share’ for her. She says — Nani is the best. I agree. In winter, I crave mum’s gajar-gobhishalgum ka achar (husband’s favourite too!). Mum on Skype, shares recipes. When we visit her, she packs some for us. When she visits us, she makes loads for not just us, but also for our friend! Who does this edition remind you of? As always, we hope to transport you to the era, much cherished and gone by.

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Of grannies making the best pickle — read: ‘ghar ka aam ka achar’. Of mums convincing kids to eat vegetable-stuffed parathas with the pickle. Of women in the neighbourhood, gathering on the common terrace to spread cut fruits and vegetables on bedsheets. Of oil stained lunch boxes, clothes, dining sheets. Of martabans and mason jars. Of right proportions of ajwain, mirch, gur, and nimbu. Of pickles prepared with vegetables, fruits, and meats. Of pudina chutney, which can make everything taste good. Of salt, sunlight, and spices. Of recipes passed down from one generation to another. Of debates on market-bought vs. homemade pickle. Of love, patience, and skill. Of times gone by. Of sweet, sour, tangy tastes. Of something for everyone. Of dining tables with pickle jars, chutney bottles. Of wiping off plates cleans. Of licking fingers. Of chaat, chatkara. Of dal, bhel puri, chawal, puri, paratha, and pani puri. Of hunt for a perfect recipe. Of traditions. Of the love of the instant generation for a pickle, which takes weeks to be prepared. Of pickle bottles wrapped in layers of bubble wrap to be carried from home to foreign lands. Of relationships.

Rights: All rights reserved. The writing, artwork and photography contained herein may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of The Indian Trumpet. The views expressed in the magazine are not necessarily those of The Indian Trumpet. All efforts have been made while compiling the content of the magazine but we assume no responsibility for the effects arising there from. We take no responsibility of the availability of the products mentioned in the various sections of the magazine. Reprints as a whole or in part can be done only with written permission from The Indian Trumpet quoting “The Indian Trumpet magazine” for texts and pictorial material. Signed articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editor. No responsibility can be taken for the loss of unsolicited manuscripts, photographs or artwork. Contacts: Purva Grover, founder & editor theindiantrumpet.com All queries to be addressed to theindiantrumpet@gmail.com The Indian Trumpet Magazine is released four times a year. It is available to the readers absolutely free of cost on the portal theindiantrumpet.com.

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The making of the pickle special edition too started with simple, humble memories — in this case, preserved, delectable, and aromatic ones. By the end of it, we were nostalgic. How does one define a pickle craving? Is it merely for the taste buds? Or is there more to it? Watching granny shoo away birds on the terrace, directions to not put a wet spoon in the pickle jar, school lunches holding paratha and achar, of daughters hoping to replicate mums magic... Hope you find the answers. Until, we meet next, happy tooting.

Purva founder & editor editor@theindiantrumpet.com


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Dear Editor, What a riot your shoe edition was! I was emotional at one moment as I read up pieces on daughters aspiring to wear the shoes of their mums and fathers teaching their sons how to tie shoe laces, and giggling the next minute as I read about shoes that would light up and also how we polished our shoes, each morning before school. I liked how, once again, your team went ahead to make the reading experience a complete one -- from wedding rituals to the cobblers on the streets. What a visual treat! Thanks Vanya Norway .............................................................. An edition on shoes, who could have though that. Actually, after the toilet edition, perhaps yes.

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Loved the art work in particular. From Bata to Mandir and high heels to plain black ones. They were a beauty. Also enjoyed the ‘Bollywood and Boot’. It was rich in information and entertainment. Parle G piece was my other favourite. I grew up eating that biscuit and still do at times! Keep up the good work. Rajesh KL

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PICKLES and CHUTNEYS. The two words that sum up why Indians love their meals so much. No meal is complete without the presence of a little dibbi or jar that holds either or both! So, we thought why not dedicate 100 pages to the spicy, sour, sweet, and tangy condiments. We peeped into houses to bring to you the whiff of pickles being prepared and we also spotted many people licking their fingers clean after a bite or two. As always, we hope you relish this experience of reading, as much we did while making it. Keep eating and sharing. And yes, do keep those recipes save! Plus, we’ve got you some fusion-kissed recipes too. Do savour them.


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WHAT’S YOUR POSTER & POSTCARD STORY WITH INDIAN CINEMA? Today, social media has impacted our life in such a big way that worshipping film stars through post cards and posters is a thing of past.

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WHEN AMMA MADE AAVAKKAAI OORUGA… In this writer’s home, there was no question of buying readymade pickles from a store. It was simply unheard of. Here’s a whiff of her preserved memories.

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THE LOST JARS Of old ceramic martabans and traditional kilns, the earthen ware that was traditionally used to store pickles are quickly disappearing from our modern kitchen...

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ONCE UPON A TIME IN ASSAM But, when most women are naturally drawn towards preserving things for the future, who knows what the coming together of feminine power might hold for the mangoes and jackfruits of anondescript village in Assam.

WHEN WE BECAME FRIENDS OVER CHUTNEY... Two roommates develop a bond over making dhaniya-pudina chutney. Until date, they hold the memories formed over spices, mint-coriander leaves, lemon juice, and more close to their hearts. 42

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PRESERVATION OF A PARSI UPBRINGING Because only grandmother knows it best — a granddaughter gets nostalgic as she remembers her childhood smothered with jaggery sweet and tangy tamarind memories. Will she be able to create the magic in her kitchen?

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FUSION KISSED CONDIMENTS Pradeep Khullar, Executive Chef, Jodhpur Royal Dining, Roda Al Murooj, Downtown Dubai, shares delectable recipes and memories.

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HOW DO YOU TAKE YOUR PICKLE? SERIOUSLY, VERY SERIOUSLY. Haven’t we all been bribed in our childhood to toss down unappealing food with a gentle nudge of the pickle in its various avatars - sweet, spicy or tangy?

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WILL THE INSTANT-NOODLES GENERATION EVER TRULY RELISH THE TASTE OF HOMEMADE PICKLES? Peppered with memories and salted with longing, a pickle lover remembers the making of the tempting achar at her ancestral home in the Konkan.

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dairy of an indian

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MY GRANDMUM AND HER GREEN BUCKET A granddaughter relives the treasures that lay hidden in her grandma’s green bucket.

FROM SEYCHELLES TO SEELAMPUR, THE STORY OF AN AUTHOR Meet Pallavi Rebbapragada, the heart-soul behind ‘Upon a Bright Red Bench’

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HE NEVER DISAPPOINTS ME! A husband, who makes the best chutneys in the world — now, that sounds like a lovely DEAL! A wife gets talking…

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SUMMER, SALT, AND LEAPS OF FAITH Too many cooks may spoil the broth, but never the pickle!

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WHEN THE ONLY WAY WE COULD TALK ON THE PHONE... We revisit the lost glory, when communication was simple, cost just a rupee, and was valued! THANK YOU, MA! Recipes that have been passed down through generations. A glimpse of the colourful world of a few recipes

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CHANDU KE CHACHA NE... A song, a memory.

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WHAT’ POSTER & STORY INDIAN C

TODAY, SOCIAL MEDIA HAS IMPACTED OU THROUGH POST CARDS AND POSTERS IS A T WITH A SWIPE OF A FINGER AND LATEST PI MEDIA SITES SUCH AS FACEBOOK. FOR SUR AND FILLING BEDRO

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’S YOUR POSTCARD Y WITH CINEMA?

UR LIFE IN SUCH A BIG WAY THAT WORSHIPPING FILM STARS THING OF PAST. WALLPAPERS CAN EASILY BE DOWNLOADED ICTURES OF STARS ARE SHARED BY ONE AND ALL ON SOCIAL RE, IT HAS KILLED THE FUN OF STACKING THE POST CARDS OOM WALLS WITH POSTERS OF STARS.

s VISHAL BHEERO

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Every Friday, a film releases at the box office. Superstars are born and venerated. As fans, we had our moments of idol worship in the form of collecting post cards and posters of our heart-throbs. Nowadays the social media has taken over that role. Over the years, those posters and postcards used to becomes cherished memorabilia through which we would boast of our adulation for the hot favourite stars, for the debonair and for those with a rakish appeal. Remember the ‘80s and ‘90s when we hoarded a bundle of the Brijbasi squared images of the stars with white space to scribble something at the back. It’s another story that the post cards were put in the mail, but carefully preserved in our treasure trove. So what’s your postcard story of cinema and film stars? Meenakshi Singh is an author, entrepreneur and theatre actress who confesses to amassing post cards of her favourite stars over her teen years. Her fixation over the teen love story ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’ lasted for almost five years during which she emptied an entire photo album to fill it with post cards of the film. She says, “I saw the film postcards at our regular stationary and gift stores where I spent a good amount of time shuffling and choosing a specific pose that struck my imagination. In those days, the price of post cards varied between 50 paisa and 1 rupee while the huge posters were sold for between 5 and 20 rupees depending on the size and pose.” With a sparkle in her eyes Meenakshi

Singh relates she felt like a millionaire after the albums were filled with post cards of Salman Khan and close ups of Aamir Khan’s face. An ecstatic feeling of flipping the pages and flaunting the album to friends left Singh with an inexplicable sense of achievement. She says, “It’s a feeling of owning your icons.” Was it a difficult task? “It was sheer hard work where I would walk a lot to hunt for the post cards. I stumbled on one special gift shop that seemed to fulfil my dreams,” she admits. In Delhi, markets like Connaught Place or Priya Complex, specific stalls were dedicated to star post cards and posters. Meenakshi Singh’s heart was stolen for keeps by Aamir Khan’s doe eyed character, chocolate hero portraying the boy next door. “In ‘Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak’ the hero, Aamir Khan, was not larger than life such as a super hero from a film like ‘Shahenshah’. He was a sweet, middle class boy, who you could identify in any of the boys from the neighbourhood.” “Aamir was such a rage and one of my elder sister’s friend who was a huge fan of his wrote a letter to the star with her blood. She even received a reply which she could not stop kissing and hugging. It was a far cry from what today’s fans do. Simply tagging or liking your favourite stars’ pages to show fascination is nothing compared to the amorous wave of fandom in our times.” We aren’t advising such letters, though. Please note. “The year was 1998 when I was completely smitten by Bobby Deol, charmed by Arjun

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Rampal and madly in love with Shah Rukh Khan,” says Neha Kare. But ultimately it was the ‘Gupt’ who became Kare’s ‘Soldier’ (the two super hits delivered by Bobby Deol). God forbid if anyone dared touch her collection of the postcards and posters of Bobby Deol. Kare guffaws, “Oh! What days those were! It started with the collection of every small newspaper clippings and articles on Deol and ultimately led to acquiring and preserving pictures and posters of my heartthrob with which I had covered the walls of my room.” Neha reminisces, “I vividly recall buying the postcards which were sold for 25 paisa and posters at two rupees in those days.” “Many would shrug it off as a sentimental tosh but for me on Bobby’s birthday was the highlight of the year. I would cut a cake in front of the vast collection of post cards and posters and felt as if my hero was smiling at me,” she says. Roohi Bhatnagar who hails from a small town in UP, started collecting Salman Khan’s and Madhuri Dixit’s posters and post cards after the massive hit ‘Hum Aapke Hain Kaun’ swept the country while she was still in school. How special was the movie for her? She gushes, “It was one film that I could watch on the big screen with my family. It was special.” So was this craze also about numbers. “Oh yes,” says Neha Kare. “In those days, your reputation and love for your favourite stars was equated to the number of posters you owned and how big your collection was. I still remember competing with a classmate in which I won because of the size of my post card collection of Shah Rukh Khan,” she says. The idea was to reconstruct the film via postcards of the memorable scenes. “I bought the post cards of Madhuri Dixit licking an ice cream, with Renuka Shahane and other scenes of the lead couple from the movie,” Roohi shares. This was the way you could keep revisiting the movie, she adds.

Today, social media has impacted our life in such a big way that worshipping film stars through post cards and posters is a thing of past. Wallpapers can easily be downloaded with a swipe of a finger and latest pictures of stars are shared by one and all on social media sites such as Facebook. For sure, it has killed the fun of stacking the post cards and filling bedroom walls with posters of stars. Neha believes, “The world has become such a small place with every film star, huge or small, having fan page where they interact and share the slightest slice of their lives with fans. It is more of an open book which is easily accessible.” I cherish my connection with my favourite stars and my album is a treasure to me. It has been years since I have been over that stage in my life, but I am still not ready to part with my precious album,” says Meenakshi. There was a certain thrill in emptying your pockets for the collection,” she adds wistfully, “Now everything is so easy to acquire.” Neha says, “There is no enigma anymore surrounding the stars.” Earlier they had a certain power. “You wanted to emulate them. There was a huge poster of Divya Bharti on my wall and one day the maid asked, ‘Didi is this yours?’ The joy that her question brought me cannot be expressed in words,” she Meenakshi. “Ya, you would want to look like them or be like them,” agrees Roohi who got a similar suit stitched for her sister’s wedding as was worn by Madhuri in one of the melodies from the film ‘Hum Aapke Hain Kaun’. Meenakshi Singh recalls Chitrashala- A Gallery of Indian Graphics in Te Aroha, which became a treasure of the original movie and actors’ posters. “I was fortunate enough for having contributed to it in a small way. It’s such a tribute to the legacy and love for our icons,” she muses. The hero worship of that sort is missing today with burgeoning options available on social media. The stars once had a magnetic pull which now has gone missing.

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Vishal Bheeroo worked as a journalist for three years in an English newspaper based out of Mauritius. He holds a bachelor degree in Economics. He loves to write & blog about all things related to India. He loves Indian cinema and dreams of making a short film, someday. He is currently working on a romcom novel and a script for a short film. He is a huge Amitabh Bachchan fan. He loves poetry, travelling and reading. He is currently based out of Mauritius but has plans of returning home, someday soon.


WHEN AMMA MADE AAVAKKAAI OORUGA… IN THIS WRITER’S HOME, THERE WAS NO QUESTION OF BUYING READYMADE PICKLES FROM A STORE. IT WAS SIMPLY UNHEARD OF. HERE’S A WHIFF OF HER PRESERVED MEMORIES.

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There are so many precious memories that form part of our childhood. Memories of familiar sights, sounds, smells, and people. They travel with us for life, and many a times, something happens in the present that brings a long-forgotten memory to the fore. Sometimes, the feeling of recalling something you didn’t even know existed in your memory can literally take your breath away. At other times, it can make you giggle or burst into tears instantly.

There was no question of buying readymade pickles from a store. It was simply unheard of. I remember how Amma would make the family’s favourite – Aavakkaai Ooruga. We would drive all the way to Matunga from Andheri. Amma would then pick the most firm and fresh Rajapuri mangoes, that giant variety of mangoes that a child of nine or ten would

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And then there are those that make your mouth water. Memories of pickle-making do that to me.

Every single time I visit the supermarket and see the pickle aisle, I’m reminded of the lengths that my Amma went to – all to ensure a whole year’s supply of pickle for the family.


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Memories of fa sights, sounds and people. Th with us for life


find difficult to hold with even two hands. Once she had picked out a few dozen worth, the mango seller would take us to another man who sat with the centuries-old Aruvamanai, his weapon of choice to tackle the mountain of mangoes. With the razor-sharp Aruvamanai and decades of experience, the mango cutter would demolish the mountain in no time, each piece of mango cubed to just over an inch. For the Aavakkaai pickle, Amma would insist the mango be cut along with the seed. As the pickle softened in the spices, the hard husk that surrounded the seed would help to ensure the mango pieces didn’t just disintegrate and dissolve in their own juices. More would follow to reinforce the firmness of the mango, to achieve that perfect point in the pickling stage between a hard piece of raw mango and a totally mushy over-pickled piece. Amma’s Aavakkaai would be so perfect that when you took it from the pickle jar, it would still hold its shape. But apply the slightest pressure with your fingers, and it would simply give and turn into this velvet mush, to mix easily with curd and rice, or anything you could think of eating it with. After the mango cutting marathon, we would proceed to the spice store opposite the wholesale vegetable market. Amma would buy copious quantities of spices. All in the precise proportions needed to achieve that perfect flavour that form the basis of a pickle.

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We would drive all the way to Matunga from Andheri. My Amma would then pick the most firm and fresh Rajapuri mangoes, that giant variety of mangoes that a child of nine or ten would find difficult to hold with even two hands.

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Back home, armed with bags brimming with cut mangoes, Amma would organise buckets of clean water (after cleaning the buckets themselves to near-sterile levels). Huge quantities of turmeric and salt went into the water and the mangoes followed. As the mangoes absorbed the salt-turmeric water, they became a treat by themselves. I have lost count of the number of times my fingers were slapped away as I reached into that magical bucket which transformed that raw piece of mango into a delicacy. It is as they say – forbidden fruit is often the tastiest. And the more zealously Amma guarded those buckets, the more eager I became to get my hands on the prize! If the juicy, soaked mangoes had me plotting, the sundried ones had me downright scheming. For the next step in getting to the perfect Aavakkaai was to sun-dry the mangoes. Old bedsheets stored for just this occasion would come out of storage and be secured with stones on the terrace of our building. Amma would then drain the mangoes out of the turmeric brine solution and dry them on the bedsheets. Another bedsheet would go on top, again secured with stones, to safeguard the drying mangoes from birds. I cannot begin to describe the taste of those sundried briny mangoes. While the juicy mangoes of the previous stage were mouth-wateringly fresh and luscious, the sun-dried stage added something to them and the taste simply transformed into something stronger, something full-bodied. It was like the sun kissed each piece of mango and left a taste of itself behind.

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It’s been decades Aavakkaai. With P memories, I didn’ the recipe either..

Amma


Once the mangoes were dried, a spice mix was prepared with everything we picked out at the store – split mustard seeds, mustard powder, chilli powder, fenugreek powder, salt and a whole lot of gingelly oil was added. A huge Bharani of porcelain, a relic of the British era (if you turned them over, you would clearly see “Made in London” marked at the bottom of these jars) was cleaned thoroughly, sun-dried to ensure it was completely dry of even the last possible drop of water, and only then the mangoes mixed in spices would make their way in, along with the oil. A clean piece of cloth was then used to tie up the Bharani and not one person dared go anywhere near it for a good couple of months. The pinnacle of this entire process would be the day of the unveiling. Another much smaller glass or porcelain jar would be cleaned, dried and made ready to be the “retail” store for the pickle. A clean dry spoon would be used to carefully take out the ready pickle from the huge Bharani. The Aavakkaai would finally be declared ready for consumption. It’s been decades since Amma last made Aavakkaai. With Parkinson’s playing on her memories, I didn’t expect her to remember the recipe either. Two months ago, at my insistence, my sister asked Amma how to make Aavakkaai. And the recipe tumbled out from the recesses of her memory, as if she had made it just yesterday. And I felt like a ten-year old once again, holding my Amma’s hand while she stood in that bustling market, where the journey of the Aavakkaai of my childhood began.

Indira is settled in Dubai for the last 19 years along with her husband. She works in IT Operations. Her hobbies include cooking, reading, travelling the world, and other creative pursuits. A kidney transplant in 2010 changed a lot for Indira including her outlook to life and learning to live fully and in the moment. In her non-existent spare time, she dabbles in writing. She writes stories inspired by real life events for SiyaWoman. On her blog mykidneybeans.com, Indira writes fiction and about strong women who have made it through everything. She has also published an e-book on Amazon.

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s since Amma last made Parkinson’s playing on her ’t expect her to remember ..


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THE

T S LO S R JA

AL DITION A R T D LLY NS AN ITIONA ARTABA D A M R C T I S G M CERA HAT WA PEARIN P A S I D OF OLD RTHEN WARE T ... KLY ITCHEN I RE QUIC HE EA K A T S , N S E R N L E L K I D C DIQ K OUR MO s NASRIN MODAK-SID TORE PI S M O O T R F D USE word

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When we moved homes, we had to leave quite a few things behind with a heavy heart. The choice wasn’t easy. Every piece had a memory attached and the modular kitchen in the new home had only space for a few of these. Like the huge martaban that my mum-in-law inherited from hers. A brown and white glazed stoneware jar was used by the family to store homemade pickle for two generations. I was in two minds. We don’t make achar at home anymore. And this one was too big to hold the few grams of different pickles we’ve begun to experiment with these days. Should I keep, should I take, should I keep! The martaban absorbs heat and cools down slowly and thus helps the achar to age well in the tropical sun. While most people have switched to glass jars to store pickles, these clay beauties are still the better option even scientifically. I was told these jars came from Burma and the manufacturers seal was engraved on it. I grew curious and a little Google search told me how these did actually came from Martaban, a small town in Burma, now called Mottama. Back in the day, this port town was an important link in the Indo-China porcelain trade. The Arab, Indian and later, European traders needed large jars to store oil, grape juice, and water amongst other commodities. Some of the jars may have been made in Martaban while others came from the surrounding Thai and Chinese cities - but they all came to be known generically as Martaban jars. The first written accounts of these jars are mentioned in 1350 by the Moroccan explorer Ibn

Batuta. These were used to store pepper, citrus, and mango, prepared with salt, ready for a sea voyage. They were like huge kilns. And rightly so. One wasn’t a frequent traveller then when it took months to finish a one-way-trip. I digress. We were talking of pickle storage. And how we’ve switched to glass jars, because they are easy to handle and store. But I still remember and follow my granny’s instructions about handling the pickle. “They are delicate,” she’d say. “Handle them with gentleness and care. You cannot afford to spoil them – it’s for the whole year,” she’d add quickly. Of course she meant the achar in the large martabans, but I guess the handling holds true for its smaller cousin – the glass jar as well. A clean spoon to scoop out the masala and no leaving the metal spoon inside the jar, as it would affect the fermentation process. Because – science. I am a huge fan of mason jars, but I think they hold plants, candles and fairy lights much better than the traditional Indian achar. That’s why I am thinking of ordering smaller martabans for the pickles we have at home. I think they would look good on the dinner table and maybe someday, I could pass them on to my daughter-in-law. I wonder if she would relate to it. I wonder if they’d still make pickles the traditional way then. But for now, I also wonder if the martabans online still come from Burma, along with the manufacturer’s seal. I think not and maybe that’s why it won’t be as charming as the ones that lined the shelves of our grandmothers. Sigh!

Nasrin Modak-Siddiqi is a writer, foodie, traveller, and movie-buff. She has many stories, some real, others figments of her imagination. On sabbatical from full-time scribing, her current motivators are good trips, meals, books or movies. She writes fiction, clicks photographs and edits old ones to add drama. Find her at continuumera.blogspot.com.

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ONCE UPON A TIME IN ASSAM A TALE OF SWEET & SOUR PLATES OF PICKLES

BUT, WHEN MOST WOMEN ARE NATURALLY DRAWN TOWARDS PRESERVING THINGS FOR THE FUTURE, WHO KNOWS WHAT THE COMING TOGETHER OF FEMININE POWER MIGHT HOLD FOR THE MANGOES AND JACKFRUITS OF THIS NONDESCRIPT VILLAGE IN ASSAM. words SUCHIRA NANDI PURKAYASTHA

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“BAIDEU, (AN ADDRESS FOR AN OLDER/ ELDERLY GIRL IN ASSAM, ALSO USED AS A MARK OF RESPECT FOR A WOMAN), I WILL ASK MY HUSBAND TO PLUCK A FEW UNRIPE MANGOES FOR YOU AT THE END OF THE DAY.” I WAS STARING AT ONE OF THE MANY MANGO TREES HEAVILY LADEN WITH FRUITS STANDING ON MOST OF THE COURTYARDS OF A TINY HAMLET AROUND 40 KMS FROM GUWAHATI IN ASSAM.

The 11-year-old girl still alive in my 30-year-old frame had just returned from school when a sour smell wafted in the air from the backyard of her house. “Freshen up and have your lunch fast. I am trying to put your brother to sleep.” My mother’s voice came from the bedroom. Rushing out to the backyard, my happiness knew no bounds at the sight of three platefuls of raw mangoes being sliced and put out in the sun to dry before being packed up in air-tight glass containers. The aroma of spices sautéed and grounded before being added to marinate the unripe fruits was teasing my teenage tastebuds. Eating my food that had already been laid out on the table, I managed to squeeze in some time before my tutor arrived for the evening. The stolen time was put to its best possible use – tasting the tangy mangoes that have been infused with spicy flavours. Only the tasting session stretched a bit too far, and one plate out of the three had been wiped clean by the time I could hear the tutor’s knock on the front door. As dusk set in while I was at my lessons, I heard my mother’s stifled scream. She was cursing me in front of father, who had just stepped into the house through the backyard door. My attention shifted from the topic being taught by the tutor. I understood I have to be ready for a severe dressing down once my lessons got over.

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No sooner did my day’s lessons get over did I sneak out of the front door to reach the backyard. The remaining two plates of the marinated diced mangoes lay on the ground. Turning back, I felt my mother’s cold stare directed at me. Well, I was not supposed to touch the pickled raw mangoes with a wet spoon as it is believed to spoil the pickle. A pickle lover had lost out before a mother that day.


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I WAS TAKING A WALK AROUND THIS GOD-FORSAKEN VILLAGE WHEN THE WOMAN’S SHRILL VOICE BROUGHT ME BACK TO REALITY. I HAD CHOSEN THE AREA AS A VENUE FOR CONDUCTING FREE MEDICAL CAMPS AS PART OF MY DUTIES AS A CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY PROFESSIONAL ON BEHALF OF THE ORGANISATION I WAS ASSOCIATED WITH. THE VILLAGE WAS BLESSED WITH LUSH GREENERY, INCLUDING FRUIT-BEARING TREES LIKE MANGOES AND JACKFRUITS. THE KIDS WERE SPLASHING AROUND IN THE NARROW STREAM THAT MEANDERED THROUGH THE MIDDLE OF THE VILLAGE. CROSSING THE RICKETY BAMBOO BRIDGE ACROSS THE SHALLOW WATERS, I HELPED MYSELF TO A SWING MADE OF COCONUT ROPE AND GUNNY BAG HANGING FROM A JACKFRUIT TREE. AS I PUSHED MYSELF HIGHER AND HIGHER, THE COOL BREEZE TOUCHED MY FACE AND I SHUT MY EYES TO SET MYSELF FREE.

“Slow down, else you might trip over.” I could hear my grandma’s voice admonishing me for riding the swing fast. “I am holding on tight, grandma,” I replied. “Your father should not have made the swing from that tall jackfruit tree for a seven-yearold girl. The tree is getting old and its branches might snap anytime,” she murmured under her breath almost to herself. “It’s getting dark. Come inside.” Soon, the sweet smell of ripe jackfruit wafted in the air as the chirping birds started returning noisily to their nests. “When the smell was so enticing, how tasty will the jackfruit pieces be.” Imagining this, I ran indoors, washed myself and headed straight towards the kitchen. My dearest grandma was extracting juice from the succulent jackfruit pieces. A bowl of the inviting purée-like juice already lay on the dining table while the second bowl was getting filled up. I dipped my fingers in the first bowl and tasted the thick yummy juice, but was shooed off by grandma. “Let me give the first serving mixed with puffed rice to your grandpa. Learn to sit still for some time.” “But, don’t kids feel hungry after playing? Also, the jackfruit purée is too tempting to wait for my turn.” Saying this, I ran off with the first bowl.

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“You have to wait some more for your evening snack. Your loving granddaughter just ran off with your servings,” she smiled to mask her false anger. After all, was she not happy herself with the annual visit of her son and his family during the summer vacation?


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THE VILLAGE WAS PROBABLY ONLY A NAME IN THE GOVERNMENT REGISTER OF LAND RECORDS. THOUGH AGRICULTURE WAS THE MAIN SOURCE OF SUSTAINANCE, THE ONLY SOURCE OF WATER FOR ALL USES WAS A STREAM THAT DRIES UP IN WINTER IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY GOVERNMENT WATER SUPPLY SCHEME. The hard-working womenfolk fetch unfiltered water from this stream for even cooking food in an open space near their almost run-down huts. The almost negligible literacy rate of the people coupled with lack of awareness has kept them outside the ambit of even the basic necessities of life provided by the government. In such a scenario, expecting a food-processing plant to take shape in this region might seem far-fetched. But when most women are naturally drawn towards preserving things for the future, who knows what the coming together of feminine power might hold for the mangoes and jackfruits of this nondescript village.

Having fallen in love with travelling in her childhood, Suchira Nandi Purkayastha has jumped on a truck, stepped on a rickety bamboo raft, and flown amidst the clouds in her journey of self-discovery. Thanks to her father’s transferable job, she has enjoyed the environs of five schools and three colleges. This communications professional believes in soaking in the myriad hues of diverse cultures. theindiantrumpet.com

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When we became friends over

chutney… CHUTNEY-FIED FOR LIFE — TWO ROOMMATES DEVELOP A BOND OVER MAKING DHANIYA-PUDINA CHUTNEY. UNTIL DATE, THEY HOLD THE MEMORIES FORMED OVER SPICES, MINT-CORIANDER LEAVES, LEMON JUICE, AND MORE CLOSE TO THEIR HEARTS. words ARSHPREET KAUR

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Could I have ever imagined making a friend for life, while I sat in the dark corner of my kitchen grinding ingredients in the process of making chutney? I guess not. I was friends with her before, but I didn’t know much about her. Little did I know, that in the next one hour of cooking together (after office hours) in our common kitchen, I will develop a special bond with her. Whilst she boiled the veggies and prepared a spicy ‘tadka’ for the dishes, I sat on the floor — grinding coriander and mint, using a mortal and pestle with my hands. I can’t recall where and how did it all start, but it became a daily ritual for the two of us — enter the kitchen together and an hour later leave with plates full of steaming food and ‘chatpati’ chutney. Born and brought up in traditional North-Indian families, both of us were fascinated with the emotions that made cooking a scared act. So, while our agemates and colleagues hired cooks to prepare meals for them, we preferred cooking for ourselves. Of course, we burnt the food at times (many!), but our mums kept encouraging us and kept repeating their recipes (over the phone) for our benefit. Over time, our food began to taste good, but never as good as prepared by mums. We cooked irrespective, of how tired we were or had to wake up early. Most importantly, not once did we exclude the making of ‘hari chutney’ from our menu. She was a great cook and half of what I know about cooking today is courtesy of her. Until date, the aroma of burning cumin in my kitchen today reminds me of her. The smell of ginger in a pan of boiling water or the taste of burnt garlic in my food sends me back in the time to the days of laughter and chatter over our nocturnal cooking experiments. She was always eager to take the initiative to experiment with new cuisines. As for me, I never stopped experimenting with the ingredients of the chutney. Sometimes, I would change the proportions of coriander and mint used, while at other times I would add both ginger and garlic in the grinding pot. There were days when I would add two green chillies,

on others I would add mango powder (amchur) to the chutney, instead of lemon juice. Sometimes, I also added onion, tomatoes, and amla. In the same kitchen, she’d made daal and sabji. She wouldn’t usually pay attention to all the experiments I did, but she always knew when I made a dramatic change in the list of ingredients. The funny part was that even in the modern age, we did not bother buying a mixer. She spent an hour cooking, while I spent the same hour grinding the chutney. Soon, I knew more about her choices, experiences, family, friends, dreams, and ambitions. We have more than 100 stories to tell of the times when we started making our food and the first time we cooked good stuff or the times we burnt our food and had to dine on bread and butter. But, the green chutney remains at the epicentre of it all because our meals were incomplete without it. They wouldn’t taste as good as they did with the chutney and we never felt satisfied even after eating enough. We were so addicted to the chutney that our satisfaction in terms of food began to totally depend on its availability. Probably, the conversations we had in that small, dark kitchen added to the flavours of the food she cooked and the chutney I prepared. After she left, the ‘dhaniya-pudina’ chutney never tasted so good, neither did the sambhar. The matar paneer never tempted me the way it did before and the gatte ki sabzi lost its flavour. It’s been a while that she left. Now, I cook my food alone, in a different kitchen, which is bigger in size and is brightly lit. It has a fancy chimney and a modern grinder-mixer, but nothing tastes as amazing as it used to. The aroma in the kitchen is not as sweet and the chutney not as sour as it used to be. In that one hour of every day, while I ground the chutney ingredients in the best way I could, I made a friend for life. The sourness of the chutney gave me the sweetest relationship of my life, a bond I would always cherish.

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Arshpreet is crazy, passionate, and full of enthusiasm. Currently working as a copywriter in an ad agency, she is also working on her novel. She loves poetry and has a strong fascination for fiction. She has been writing since she was 11 and has known it ever since that she was always meant to be a writer.


Preservation of a trumpet lead

Parsi upbringing

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BECAUSE ONLY GRANDMOTHER KNOWS IT BEST — A GRANDDAUGHTER GETS NOSTALGIC AS SHE REMEMBERS HER CHILDHOOD SMOTHERED WITH JAGGERY SWEET AND TANGY TAMARIND MEMORIES. WILL SHE BE ABLE TO CREATE THE MAGIC IN HER KITCHEN? words PERI DESAI


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They stood like sentinels in a cage in the kitchen. Various sized bottles holding marriages of sweet, briny, smooth, nutty, fruity, garlic, vegetable, prawn, and any other flavour imaginable. Tall and sleek, squat with a dimpled round surface, boxy but spacious, the jars in my granny’s larder. So many pickles in so many bottles holding so much love.

But the shining stars of my grandmother’s kitchen were her pickles. I remember walking through the labyrinthine spreads of raw mangoes, limes and chillies, drying out in the baking April sun on her home’s large attached terrace, the soles of my feet blistering their protest, but my mouth watering its consent. I remember huge empty vats, their insides hollow, awaiting the arrival of the dry goods. The limes, lemons, mangoes, ginger, garlic, chillies, carrots, onions, capers and whatnot would be chopped, shredded, julienned, sliced (cut in a myriad ways) and fistfuls made their way into those vats, where they were smothered in weird and wonderful spices, preserved with herbs bought fresh at the local market. Different combinations produced different flavours. Only she knew the ratio of the vegetables

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My grandmother was a Parsi. Parsis are the perfect mix of good humour, eccentric behaviour and delicious food culture. Their unique situation – ancestral roots in Iran with a strong influence of Gujarati gastronomy and language – makes Parsi food an interesting epicurean experience unlike any other type of Indian cuisine. Mostly unpronounceable dishes are cooked with intense yet surprising flavour combinations to produce the most unforgettable type of food. Each year of my youth I’d look forward to a Parsi wedding or confirmation ceremony in extended family or friends, since these produced food feasts unparalleled by other Indian events. Whether it was fresh pomfret slathered in tangy coriander chutney wrapped in a

banana leaf (paathra ni macchi) or chunks of chicken dragged through eggy batter and deep fried (chicken farcha) or the delicate wobble of creamy caramel (lagan nu custard), Parsi food remains my favourite type of food.


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Peri Desai reinvents herself every couple of years. In previous versions she has been a print, radio and photo journalist, a communications expert, a media manager, and a published poet. She has worked for The Times of India, the BBC World Service and the United Nations. Her stints have seen her live in Mumbai, London, New York and Reykjavik. She continues to be a mother, a daughter, a sister, a writer and a lover of house plants and pets. When she isn’t traipsing off to different corners of the globe, you’ll find her in Dubai, home for the last few years. But that may change at a moment’s notice.

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to the oil, the sugar to the cayenne pepper, the tamarind to the mustard seeds (popped in searing hot oil to release their pungency). Only she knew what temperature to preserve the lemon rind until it was ready to be squashed under the weight of a ton of jaggery. And only she knew each family member’s favourite type of pickle. Mine was the murabba. The Parsi murabba is a tangy amalgam of thinly stripped raw mango marinated over many weeks then left to drown in jaggery syrup, cayenne pepper, salt, tamarind juice and some other secret stuff. The finished product was a firm yet fleshy pickle, best scooped into fresh, hot chappatis or slowly licked with one guilty index finger as it waited on a plate for the ubiquitous dal/chawal. Regular Parsi dal is usually cooked with lots of garlic and tempered with cumin. Other types of dals are the dhansak and the masala dal. The former is infamous (but has morbid origins as it was originally served at memorials), the latter is a thick, spicy version of the regular. Murabba (gentrified from the Arabic ‘mirabba’ – for jam) is an idea originating in the Caucasus (present day Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan). Merchants who travelled to India from these lands (once a large part of ancient Persia) adopted the local aam, or mango (growing in abundance in Gujarat) into their murabba. The locals kind of liked the taste – hey, a major active ingredient is sugar! – and made it their own by hefting it with spice from chillies and sourness from lime juice. Gujaratis like their food balanced with its own share of sweetness (the state farms swathes of sugarcane) and their pickling creations enjoy their fair share of sweetness, achieved by adding sugar in its various stages of processing – from nubby nutty jaggery to fine white powder. Gujaratis murrabo-fy all sorts of vegetables and fruits – gourds, gooseberries (aamla), apples, lime peels… throwing in peanuts and chironji for good measure. My granny kept it real by making it only with raw mango and her set of ingredients – too complex a challenge to quantify.

Here is a small recipe of a fresh tomato pickle I make at home, nothing even close in taste to a murabba, but I enjoy it with samosas or bhajias in the evening. I hope you do too. Ingredients: • • • • • • • • • • •

4 medium fresh tomatoes, chopped, deseeded and skins removed a teaspoon of cumin seeds a teaspoon of black mustard seeds one large green chilli slit length-wise pinch of asafetida (hing) half teaspoon of grated ginger 8-10 dry (or 5-6 fresh) whole curry leaves one teaspoon refined sugar half teaspoon salt 1-2 tablespoons lime juice 2 tablespoons groundnut oil

Method: • Heat the oil in a small saucepan until very hot, add the cumin and mustard seeds, wait for them to sizzle and pop. Add the green chilli and asafetida and stir. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the ginger and curry leaves, leave to emulsify, about one minute. Make sure not to burn the curry leaves. • Now add the fresh tomatoes and allow to cook for ten minutes on low heat until a thick paste forms, stir occasionally. Add the sugar, salt and lime juice towards the end of cooking time. Adjust to taste. If you like it more spicy, add one more green chilli at the time of tempering. • Allow to cool completely and use after a day. This fresh pickle can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator.

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Recently my parents visited me in Dubai. My mum brought along a car battery sized amount of store bought murabba, which sat in my fridge for all of three weeks, being licked clean to a point where washing its container was perhaps not needed. No one can replicate my grandmother’s murabba but having no choice, anything reminding me of it and her is lovingly welcome.

Fresh Tomato Pickle


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When I think of pickles and chutney, I remember sitting with my grandmother in the summer while she went about preparing pickle and teaching me the role of each ingredient. Sour, firm green mangos, backyard garden-plot carrots and small, thin-skinned, overabundant limes were some of her favourite ingredients. Pickles and chutneys are extremely versatile, as they can accompany a variety of dishes to give them a spunk and exquisite flavour. Sometimes, I even like using it as marinade with my protein to give it a tangy and rich flavour. — PRADEEP KHULLAR EXECUTIVE CHEF, JODHPUR (+9714355 9846), RODA AL MUROOJ, DOWNTOWN DUBAI, DUBAI, UAE


Fennel Bulb Pickle • • • • • • • • • • •

500g fresh fennel bulb 350ml mustard oil 20g fennel seeds 10g onion seeds 10g fenugreek seeds 10g yellow mustard seeds 10g carom seeds 8g salt 15g turmeric powder 20g red chilly powder 50ml vinegar

seeds, fenugreek & carom seeds. Temper the seeds in mustard oil then. 5 Let it cool for an hour & add fennel bulbs to it. 6 Mix all and kept aside for 12 hours before it is served. Tip: Don’t over boil the fennel bulb as the crunch needs to be reserved.

1 Slice fennel bulb into wedges and discard the leaves. 2 Clean the segments and blanch them in water with vinegar, salt & turmeric powder. 3 Dehydrate under a lamp for 6 hours. 4 Dry roast fennel seeds, mustard seeds, onion

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Beetroot Wasabi Chutney* • • • • • •

250g beetroot 80g Wasabi paste 155g hung curd 5g salt 20ml lemon juice 5g black salt

1 Boil beetroot, keep aside to chill, peel and make a fine paste out of it using a blender. 2 To the beetroot paste — add wasabi paste, hung curd, salt, black salt and strain. *For 500g

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Popcorn Chutney* • • • • • • • • •

100g popcorns (puffed) 20g mushroom oyster sauce 15g coriander roots 5g chat masala 50g Tabasco 5g green chillies 5g salt 100g red bell peppers 15ml cooking oil

1 Grind popcorn in a grinder and keep aside. 2 Sauté bell peppers and coriander roots. Stir for a while and blend all the ingredients in a blender. 3 Mix ground popcorns into the blend, adjust the seasoning and strain the chutney to achieve a velvety consistency. *For 500g

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From Seychelles to Seelampur, the Story of an Author

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PALLAVI REBBAPRAGADA

We don’t have to tell a story to prove that we lived it, but our story will die with us if we don’t do tell it. But we don’t get that because we’re lazy and unsure about how profound we sound and or wonder if we’re making sense at all. The thing is, no story is big or small. When I started my career as a trainee writer with a lifestyle magazine, I remember writing about shoes, bags, paint, tea and coffee, anklets, tattoos, and several other things a beautiful world is embellished with. Christmas tree journalism, I used to call it. But, it is hard to put up a Christmas tree every day, to engage readers with content so glittery and happy and it won’t inspire a conversation of recall value around a water cooler at the office or be served alongside yellow lentil at a middle class family’s square dinner table. That is how I became a storyteller, by manufacturing intrigue to draw my readers into the slight depths of my pieces. Gradually, I warmed up to the magical exercise of travel writing, which combines the senses of sight, sound and smell into one sentiment - that I call the nostalgia of now. I then immersed myself in assignments on fashion, food, and art and craft from around the world. Conversation and observation made writing happen. Do artisans hunched over

priceless dials in the soundless valleys of Switzerland ever fear that the shake of their hands will cost a glitch worth millions? What do Playboy bunnies in Macao think about feminism? For millennials in Beijing, how was it growing up with the one child policy in China? How do tour guides in Seychelles feel when they find work inside someone else’s vacation? In search of more stories, I dived into dark alleys where death workers, homeless children, and fearless social revolutionaries were waiting to be heard. If days were spent with undertakers who are sometimes fathers to dead sons, sometimes sons to dead fathers, evenings were spent with addicts who have lost precious years of their lives to addiction that the state couldn’t pull them out of. Truth is stranger than fiction, the stranger the truth, the simpler the fiction. As a journalist, exposure to diametrically opposite realities one after another was comparable to a cocktail of emotions. The exercise of fiction is nothing but filtering out this cocktail onto empty pages, and slowly separating its colours and textures – that is what creating a book is like; chemistry with one’s own imagination. Upon a Bright Red Bench was conceived at the Yale Writers’ Conference in 2014. It is a collection of ten stories narrated in the objective and neutral voice of a bright red bench. From a girl who suddenly finds herself conflicted in an arranged marriage to a government officer in Uttar Pradesh to another girl studying art in Paris and is labelled as modern by the world, to an entrepreneur who runs into a nun on a train and techies from Bangalore who move to Dubai on a short contract and leave their partners behind, and even those daydreamers in Mumbai reluctantly facing reality day after day…the bench encounters emotional dilemmas of modern Indians. “They try. They try every day, to wring out of this distant and eternal continuum, a small, personal sense of now. The past is passion. With its tragedies, comedies and farce, it survives. The future is fantasy with its thrill of the unseen, it will live on. What dies every instant is the present. They sit upon me, they think and speak, and they wish that the present was made of silver and gold. Why do they seem unqualified to look beneath and find to their immeasurable delight that it might be a bright red, a hopeful if not beautiful bright red? And that is when I think to myself, are they present in the present at all?” Imagine if the bench you’re sitting on could read your mind. What if it had a voice? What if it knew that you lie daily, in your marriage, in your job, to the mirror, to the world? Upon a bright red bench, there is guilt, confusion, stupidity, and even the desire to commit a crime and get away with it. The bench knows you are here to seek wisdom and calmness and all those virtues that you observe and admire in the lives of others. In this story of stories, there are bankers, artists, engineers, journalists, dreamers and doers, who roam the world in search of attention and approval. When their ordinary lives bring them to a bench, they find life-altering realisations. There is a journey inwards into the present, the bright red present—how often do you take it? Broken people are writers because when bright sunlight falls into the cracks in the mirror, splendid reflections might suddenly come to life. I hope my readers court a corner on the red bench closest to them and fall in love with their own brokenness. Upon a Bright Red Bench is available at leading bookstores across India & can also be ordered online.

Upon a Bright Red Bench is the first literary effort of Indian journalist Pallavi Rebbapragada. It is a collection of short stories narrated by a bright red bench. In 2010, she started her career as a correspondent with The India Today Group. In 2013, the falcon of her dreams landed in Dubai. Here, she worked with Forbes. Her next stint was with The New Indian Express in New Delhi. She now writes investigative reports for Firstpost. She has reported from India, Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. From the vibrant worlds of fashion, food and luxury to the dark alleys of death, drugs and homelessness, her pen has journeyed across human realities. She earned her Master’s degree in Sociology from the Delhi School of Economics, where she was also awarded a National Scholarship. Her love for prose grew in 2014 at the Yale Writers’ Conference. Home, she feels, is where the printing press is. More about her: www.pallavirebbapragada.com.

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How do you take your

pickle? Seriously, very seriously.

HAVEN’T WE ALL BEEN BRIBED IN OUR CHILDHOOD TO TOSS DOWN UNAPPEALING FOOD WITH A GENTLE NUDGE OF THE PICKLE IN ITS VARIOUS AVATARS - SWEET, SPICY OR TANGY? AND AREN’T WE GRATEFUL FOR THAT INITIATION! words AANANDIKA SOOD Remember the times when your mother or granny would coerce you into having just another bite of the parantha (with all those veggies hidden in it)? Do you remember the major content of her arsenal? It is coming to you isn’t it, the sweet, somewhat tangy and just the right amount of spicy, taste of the pickle with which you were lured. That pickle then went on to be your champion. Even today, when as a grown up you come across food that needs to be upgraded, don’t you just love to reach out for the glass bottle of the pickle? I remember a particular birthday, when as was the ritual on the birthdays, my best friend was home for a sleep over. She was extremely fond of one particular variety of the mango pickle in our home and despite the fact that my mother would religiously send a bottle to her house, labelled ‘for B’, I had to submit my lunchbox promptly to her on reaching school on days when the pickle was part of my lunch. So on this particular night when the whole house slept, she woke me up and took me downstairs to the dining room to get her some pickle. And it wasn’t just one trip that we made that night. She confessed to staying awake until the house became quite and we could go down for the pickle. By the morning we both had tummy ache and the pickle that had been kept in a not-so-small bottle for easy access had diminished contents. We still have a hearty laugh over how we had been enslaved by the pickle. ‘Aam ka achaar’ is a staple in almost all the households

in India. Isn’t it? Wherever you might belong to, you have an absolute favourite mango pickle. If it isn’t the mango pickle, then maybe it is the garlic pickle or the bamboo one. The point I am trying to make is that everyone has a favourite pickle. Pickles complete food. Pickle uplifts food from being just the everyday fare to something that is delicious. And it does all that so subtly and beautifully. Imagine you are at someone’s place for a meal and their spice quotient doesn’t match up to yours and you would rather eat the plate then comment about that to the host but you can’t just take another bite of the food, what would you do? Simple, ask for some pickle. Take my word for it. Every house has some or the other pickle. From the stuffed fiery ‘laal mirch’ to the humble pachranga, your saviour will be somewhere close by, sitting in a glass bottle, immersed, as some sadhu, deep in (a) concentration of oil and spices. If you are at a place where people take the pickle seriously, you might be humbled by the presence of the traditional ‘martabaan’ the contents of which would make your life better in a bite. It is just amazing how pickles add to our plate. And if the above mentioned examples make you think that only veggies get pickled then you are in for a surprise. Chicken, mutton and many others get pickled and I have friends who vouch that this pickle is what adds all the glamour to their meatless days at home and office. So to save yourself from being in a pickle about the food on your plate, go find a pickle to love.

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Aanandika Sood aspires to be the rolling stone that gathers a lot of moss. After eight years of writing copies and columns, editing and scripting stories and honing her PR skills, she is now playing the part of a freelance writer and a mommie. She lives in Kolkata, blogs at aanandika.blogspot.in and writes on anything that stimulates her mind and merits comment.


My grand

HER GREEN

A GRANDDAUGHTER RELIVES THE TREASURES THAT LAY HIDDEN IN HER GRANDMA’S GREEN B ERA GO

diary of an indian

words INDIRA ANAND • IMAGES

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image APEKSHA MAKER

dmum &

N BUCKET

BUCKET — FAMILY TIES, MANGO PICKLE, IGNORED MEDICAL ADVICE, AND MEMORIES OF AN ONE BY… ERIC MARTIN (FLIC.KR/P/5XOKM2)

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Andamai would get out of the train with her bag and suitcase, additionally armed with at least two green buckets of the narthangai pickle Andamai, my grandmother, split her time between living with us in Bombay for most of the year and visiting family and friends in native village for a few months. She would take the Jayanthi Janata Express, which chugged all the way from Bombay in the West to Kanyakumari in the South. Once her spirit was recharged by the village air, food and company – she would return back, always bearing special treats for all of us. When it was time for her to return, Appa would go to the station to pick her up. Andamai always brought along a whole bunch of goodies from our native village. We, the grandkids, would wait with eager anticipation for Andamai to come back. From sweet chakkavarati (jackfruit jam) to spicy maracheeni appalam (tapioca papad that had a distinct pattern on them from the special reed mats they were dried

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on) to sun-dried slices of salted raw mango to my grandmother’s favourite and my father’s source of annoyance – narthangai pickle, every item was lovingly and painstakingly prepared by the women of the family and sent so we could experience a slice of the village right there in the city. I still wonder whether the my father’s annoyance was with the pickle itself or the manner in which my grandmother chose to transport them or the fact that pickles were strictly forbidden to Andamai because of her rising blood pressure. From the angle of transporting these delicious narthangai, it was not yet the age of the disposable container or the ziplock bag. Presumably, the only wholesale container Andamai could easily get in the


image VISHAL KHULLAR

village was a small two-litre bucket with a lid. These buckets would, for reasons still unknown to me, always be a bright olive green in colour.

By now am sure you are wondering what exactly this unpronounceable “narthangai” is! Narthangai is from the citrus family, and known as Citron or Bitter Orange in English (a fact I didn’t know until I Googled it for the benefit of the readers of this lip-smacking tale). It is known to aid digestion and settle uneasiness of the digestive system. Typically, Narthangai pickle is eaten with curd rice and its sour and salty taste adds a special zing to the curd rice mixture. To this day, it is my go-to food to eat on days that my stomach simply doesn’t feel right. It has quite a strong citrus

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Andamai would get out of the train with her bag and suitcase, additionally armed with at least two green buckets of the narthangai pickle. She would usually bring two kinds, the freshly pickled one which was still wet from the juices of the narthangai mingling with the salt and turmeric, and a dried variety which was a longterm version of the same narthangai pickle, but dried out over time. The second version would last practically forever without getting spoilt, but it got consumed too

fast for me to ever have a chance to test that theory!


taste, and what is ultimately consumed is the thick peel that gets softened and pickled in the salt and tamarind mix. These days spicier versions of the Narthangai pickle are available as the stores boast of more and more varieties for just about anything you want to buy. But back in those days, the homemade version was typically made by slitting the narthangai into four but not quite cutting it and stuffing it with a mixture of salt and turmeric. A few narthangai would then be juiced to provide a liquid base for the stuffed narthangai to react with and for the salt to slowly dissolve. The love of narthangai made the diagnosis of high blood pressure a bitter pill to swallow for Andamai. And keeping her away from her favourite narthangai was nearly impossible. She would wait for the opportune moment when no one was looking and sneak a piece of two. Being born in the village and raised in the village, new-fangled diseases like blood pressure made no sense to her, neither did the diet restriction on salt and salty items like pickles. My father’s annoyance with her fixation on this pickle would slowly escalate until it ended with threats to throw the buckets of narthangai at the railway station itself. But Andamai would laugh at him outright, probably one of the only people in the world who could do that and live to tell the tale.

diary of an indian

Against all odds, she defied every order that the doctor passed and lived her life on her terms. While education and awareness has changed our attitude towards doctors and their advice in this day and age, it never fails to amuse me how Andamai simply shrugged off any advice that she couldn’t work into her lifestyle, and proceeded to eat exactly what she wanted, and live exactly how she wanted. Andamai was well over 85 when she passed away in March 2000, barely a month before my wedding. If there is a version of heaven up there filled with narthangai trees heavy with fruit, that’s where I visualise her to be, breathing in that fragrance and feeling at home again.

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Indira is settled in Dubai for the last 19 years along with her husband. She works in IT Operations. Her hobbies include cooking, reading, travelling the world, and other creative pursuits. A kidney transplant in 2010 changed a lot for Indira including her outlook to life and learning to live fully and in the moment. In her non-existent spare time, she dabbles in writing. She writes stories inspired by real life events for SiyaWoman. On her blog mykidneybeans. com, Indira writes fiction and about strong women who have made it through everything. She has also published an e-book on Amazon.


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Will the instant-noodles generation ever truly relish the taste of

homemade pickles?

PEPPERED WITH MEMORIES AND SALTED WITH LONGING, A PICKLE LOVER REMEMBERS THE MAKING OF THE TEMPTING ACHAR AT HER ANCESTRAL HOME IN THE KONKAN

trumpet lead

words NASRIN MODAK SIDDIQI

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On my dining table are three glass jars that once contained jam, now they are proud holders of lehsun (garlic), kairi (raw mango), and mirchi (chilli) ke achar. We got them from Lucknow, when we visited my husband’s family last September. Their unique flavours shifts from somewhat pungent to slightly tangy and extremely spicy. At lunch, they scream – what’s your mood today? Pick me! And each one promises to add a unique shift to our desi meals. It’s interesting how a tiny spoon of the masala from those glass bottles can uplift the taste of even the simplest dal chawal. Like a magic potion. That unique blend of salt, hing, lal mirch, haldi, and other Indian spices when mixed with salt, spices and oil can make mouths water in an instant. That’s a guarantee. Most often, they take me down the memory lane. As a kid, I remember how these were painstakingly made and stored at my grandmother’s home in a small village

on the western coast of Maharashtra. As soon as the first batch of raw mangoes were brought home from our family baagh (fruit orchard), the firmest one were chopped off in the right size with a big knife on platform made from a bark of a tree. “They mustn’t be yellow,” warned my granny and aunts. “It will defeat the purpose of the mango achar, which must be tangy and spicy — not sweet. Yellow on the inside means they are done and sweet. It has to be raw,” they spoke to each other rather nonchalantly, reiterating what both already knew. In hindsight, it must have been for us cousins to hear and register the wisdom they were trying to pass down to us in the hope that we will take it forward. Most of us hovered around the site to get our share of the tangy loot. The boys indulged too. The older ones refrained – for them, it was a girl thing. The mangoes were spread on old cotton sarees and bedsheets in

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the aangan (frontyard), and we were quick to shift our play site next to it. No wonder then, the strictest of aunts was sent to man the location. Children couldn’t be trusted – just like the birds, who too couldn’t resist the temptation and often flew way with a few pieces of the fruit.

trumpet lead

Sunshine love Out came the large brown and white porcelain jars to be sun dried as well, and so we were instructed to be extra careful around them. Inside the kitchen, the scene was intense. Meticulous preparations were in full swing. The masalas had to be roasted, ready to be ground. Meanwhile, salt and red chilli powder is applied to a small batch and served at lunch – a quick makeshift solutions for mouths that can’t stop watering.

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As the sun came down, the strict aunt carefully wrapped the cloth with its contents and took them inside to a safe corner. Away from the children and possible rodents, but mostly children. Next morning, it was brought out again. This exercise continued the next day, and the following one, till the fruit shrunk to just the right size. Not too dry, but sans the moisture. Wetness is the enemy of preservation - another wisdom tried to be passed down. Spice it up Now is the crucial time – the mixing of spices with the dried fruit. The turmeric, chilly, mustard, asafetida, salt, and the oil – in just the right measure. It needed the nod of the woman head of the house – my grandmother, who knew exactly what a grain of salt more could do to the whole batch. It was all about the


right amount and there was no scope for mistakes. It had to be perfect. This wasn’t about the next meal — it was about the whole next year. This was a saviour on rainy days when fresh food can be difficult to procure. The spices were ground using the traditional flat stone grinder. Not the electric mixer – it’s not the same – I can vouch for it. The paste was mixed with oil and smeared on the dried mango pieces. The dark red masala, evenly spreading on the flesh of the fruit, thanks to the spiced oil. Slurppp! It already looked so delicious that it was difficult to resist. Trying to steal at this stage meant a whack on the young, thieving hands. The waiting… Now came the hardest part. You have the ready pickle right in front of you, but you can’t eat. “It’s too fresh, let it sit for at least a few days till the flavour

develops,” was the reply from the elders. As the rich and spicy pickle entered the large porcelain jars, everyone drooled. Even the strict aunt couldn’t hide her temptation. The mouthwatering treat had that magical effect – it could make the toughest hearts melt. The making of an achar is a lesson in patience. Sunlight, salt and spices, love, flat roof, generations passed down recipes – pickles aren’t an instant thing. You have to witness its making to appreciate the fine distinction. Sometimes I feel, because it is a time-consuming, labour of love, the twominute noodles generation may never be able to understand why the homemade pickles taste so different than the ones picked off the shelf. Because it is made with love, something even the meanest ad campaigns can’t sell.

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Nasrin Modak-Siddiqi is a writer, foodie, traveller, and movie-buff. She has many stories, some real, others figments of her imagination. On sabbatical from full-time scribing, her current motivators are good trips, meals, books or movies. She writes fiction, clicks photographs and edits old ones to add drama. Find her at continuumera.blogspot.com.


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He never disappoints me! A HUSBAND, WHO MAKES THE BEST CHUTNEYS IN THE WORLD — NOW, THAT SOUNDS LIKE A LOVELY DEAL! A WIFE GETS TALKING… words AANANDIKA SOOD

The chutney in the house is a job that has been solely assigned to the husbandman. And for the twelve years that we have been married, he hasn’t disappointed us even once. By us I mean me, my friends and our respective families. Friends at dinner parties, look forward to his chutneys. I might have slogged on the snacks for hours together, but the chutney (and its maker) in the house steals the show. From the very basic mint and coriander chutney to the ones that need more tweaking like the imli and gur ki chutney, the garlic chutney and the coconut chutney, he has mastered them all. (Reminds me I have to lure him into grinding some awesome hummus, well that is also a chutney, albeit of the foreign kinds, eh?) I, on the other hand, dread the day I have to throw in some mint and coriander leaves with a few spoonfuls of lemon juice, sprinkle some spices, and press whizz it all in the mixer. I break into sweat if I am asked to make chutney to accompany the simple meal. I begin to look at the clock for the arrival of the husbandman and rehearse, ‘How to broach the topic with him who has come after a gruelling day at work expecting dinner to be served’ in my mind. The next obvious question is what am I so scared of? I mean there really isn’t much to the making

of chutney, isn’t it. But my dear friend, only the wearer knows where the shoe fits. Making chutney, which by the way I can consume by spoonfuls, is not be underestimated. It is precision science. My husband has made me stand alongside him and take notes on this very science...What all to put, how much to put, when to put it and the ratios to be used. Even then I have not been able to turn out good chutney. Ever. Without fail I have had to throw whatever I make. At times the quantity of ajwain has induced tartness, at others the leaves haven’t churned out well (do you think the mixer is rallying against me? The question has passed through my mind a million times!) and have long tails of the coriander twig been found trailing in the green concoction. There have also been times when the anardaana seeds were the culprit and other instances when some sneaky lemon seeds, adding a bitter crunch, into the thing without my intentions or efforts. So, you see, even though I have almost completely given the pursuit of churning out chutney, I haven’t given up hope that someday I might be able to balance, the sweet and the sour and my own ying and yang!

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Aanandika Sood aspires to be the rolling stone that gathers a lot of moss. After eight years of writing copies and columns, editing and scripting stories and honing her PR skills, she is now playing the part of a freelance writer and a mommie. She lives in Kolkata, blogs at aanandika.blogspot.in and writes on anything that stimulates her mind and merits comment.


When the only way we could talk on the phone was via a

STD/PCO booth

WE REVISIT THE LOST GLORY, WHEN COMMUNICATION WAS SIMPLE, COST JUST A RUPEE, AND WAS VALUED

idhar udhar

words VISHAL BHEERO

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An air of nostalgia squeezes in the air every time Amitabh Bachchan pops into your favourite music channel dropping a one rupee coin in the faded PCO booth that went into oblivion to sing ‘Mein yahan tum wahan, zindagi hai kahan’ to Hema Malini. After all, it was the golden 1990s era when the seamless crowd grew in drove and exuded relief to embrace the yellow revolution of PCO and STD booths. Our Hello Point! Distance is a bane, but not for the yellow revolution that flippantly traipsed into our lives to string hearts closer through the wires of communications. The condensing tale of love, friendship, and happiness; the phone booths wafted into our lives and gently gave us the feeling that we never moved away from our families and loved ones. It’s our cultural habit to shout on trunk calls that scripted stories spanning over more than 20 years and like every good thing, the romance had to come to an end. Our dear old STD booth is passé.

Joyeeta fondly recalls how the PCO guy became ‘our guest of honour’ and the harbinger of news about someone, who would be calling at a specific time. She says, “When the PCO guy came to tell ‘aunty-ji aaj aapke bade bhaiaya ka phone aayega sham ko panch baje kisi ko bhej dena’ (Aunty-ji, your elder brother will call at 5 pm and send someone to attend the call), mom treated him with a hot cup of tea and a plate full of sweets. In the evening, I and my younger brother would rush to the PCO religiously on time to attend the call.” The local PCO became domesticated in this era of simplicity when India was warming to the joy of call and missed calls, which came much before the overrated buzz words on handsets, one is tempted to argue. Joyeeta has quite a juicy anecdote to share that could easily flit its way into comedy of errors. It took the ‘estranged Mama’ 15 minutes of conversation to ask for Arushi and a puzzled Joyeeta would wonder about a sister she never had. She asked, “Who is Arushi?” to which

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Remember how we stood in queue in front of Pinto Bhaiya’s phone booth in Mumbai’s posh locality to call our loved ones and bartered with him in exchange for a chai and sutta when we were short of coins. The dear old phone booth is buried now at a time when lives are compressed to snazzy smart phones and gadgets galore to make us harken back to the heydays. Joyeeta Talukdar, a researcher based in Assam tells us interesting stories fresh in her memories in this now distant, ‘nostalgic industry.’

“The 90s were the time when the first STD/ISD/PCO booth ushered into our nearest neighbourhood when we were not privy to the luxury of a landline in our home. This PCO booth sprang into action and we couldn’t resist the urge of calling long distant relatives, which became a routine in our daily life. The nanis, bua, tau, tai, dure ke rishte wale bhaiyaji, mamiji and the rest of all suddenly seeped into our lives of calls,” she remembers.


idhar udhar

the Mama-ji refreshed her mind, “Your sister.” It was Joyeeta’s turn to tell the Mama-ji that she has no sister and the stranger lividly asked, “Whose Mama? I am from Bombay and am no one’s Mamaji,” in reply to Joyeeta’s brother who snatched the phone asking, ‘Arre aren’t you Delhi wale Mamaji?’Joyeeta guffaws, “It was later that we got a hang that the call was from the dewar (brother-inlaw) to our neighbour aunty. When he visited our neighbour’s aunty

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home, he became our Mamaji and the relationship still persists today.” An era of phone booths that cropped misunderstanding that often happens over the line and created everlasting good relationships where credit is given to ‘PCO wale bhaiyaji.’ Mumbai-based Mayura Amarkant remembers the phone booth, a must that wafted into the life of every middle class Indian and has now sunk into the distant ‘nostalgic

industry.’ It was a way of life echoing into a culture ethos where, ‘Most of us had at least one relative living abroad or outside the city. She states, ‘Dinners were an early affair and we took leisure walks in the evening.’ Mayura adds, “I remember a bunch of neighbours gathering at the phone booth waiting for their turn and the waiting time was spent for fellowship and bonding. We knew the booth owner by their first name and had an account with him.”


anxiety of using coins to dial number and hurriedly trying to wrap up a conversation before it would get disconnected.” The STD booth came with its own perks and it’s not Vinodini who would deny the whole call getting dripped midway when she was short of coins to complete the conversation. Phone booth and films are intricately linked. She recalls a Hindi film where the hero sings an entire song for his love interest from the phone booth.

She quips, “I wonder about the reactions if it ever happens in real life, much to the chagrin of the people queuing up outside the booth, waiting impatiently for the lover to finish his song!” “The phone booth sang a tone that played and captured our minds with a soft female voice quivered in various regional languages. Apuni dial kora number tu boidho nohoi anugroho kori nomborto to val dore chai loyok

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While Vinodini Iyer’s family was lucky enough to have the luxury of a landline at home since it came with the perk of her father working with the railways, the STD booth seeped into her life to carve lifetime memories. She reminisces, “I vividly remember using STD booth when I’d be outside home and desperately needed to get in touch with someone. A distinct memory that these cute little phone booths evoke now is the mixed feeling of excitement and


(The number dialled by you is not correct please check the number you have dialled)” strummed its way into the world of Joyeeta. She says, “Hearing this message was enough for us and either one of us holding the phone would make up the story and act accordingly to the voice to take the concocted play forward.” “I was fascinated, along with my brother Jeet, peeping through the kiosk and silently picking the phone, oblivious to the glares of PCO wale bhaiya, busy with his pan shop to play ‘Sanjay-Sunita’the invisible detectives during our holidays, borrowing a leaf from Byomkesh Bakshi that was aired on Doordarshan.”

idhar udhar

One thing led to the other, she says, picking up the phone during play time to dial some unknown number to hear the mysterious voice in regional language. Hearing the voice gave enough fodder to take the detective game forward, holding up the phone, spinning the story and turning into performers in their imaginary world. Joyeeta muses, “The PCO still exists near our home but the only difference is that now it has been converted into a store room of courier service from our locality. Today, we have grown up to the tune of mobile phones taking our world by storm and reducing public booth to zilch. Yet, whenever I hear this message over my mobile phone, nostalgia creeps in and I go back to my childhood days of PCO with kiosk and red colour bell telephone.” The same soothing voice as one dials a number hasn’t disappeared

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from the life of Vinodini, who, still finds it amusing while dialling to another state in India. She says, “The regional language voice still entertains us even today over the cell phone. I remember the STD/ PCOS dotting all over the place when I lived, right from the local grocer’s to the Xerox shops found at every nook and corner.”

April 12th or 13th at round 6 p.m when we were returning from the lab to our room at IIT-Guwahati when earthquake jolts was felt for few seconds. A second one struck for seconds and we rushed downstairs but the whole IIT campus was engulfed in pitch darkness. The tremors continued till we reached the ground floor.”

No wonder it brought a smile on faces of India in a time when phone boots sprouted everywhere like mushrooms.

She says that the light resurfaced but along with her best friend Sandhya, they were too afraid to stay at the campus and boarded the next bus to reach the latter’s elder sister home. “It took us around an hour to reach our destination but there was no tower to facilitate mobile calls. The first thing we did was reached a PCO at the stop and to assuage the fears of our loved ones at home about our safety. The first thing we saw at the PCO was the crowd teeming up in front of the left over, ‘Yellow revolution’ kiosk that saved the day during times of crisis,” she affirms.

It’s quite strange that this voice didn’t shrill its way in the ear of phone booth fans like Mayuri who honestly confesses, “I don’t really remember the voice.” “It was during the time I was dating my husband that STD booth came to the rescue which ensured that we kept in touch while I was travelling. The comfort offered by a small fan inside, clean booth, safe environment, polite uncle or aunty inside made my love ride smooth and made all the difference of zeroing on booths,” she says. The ubiquitous phone booth that sparked a yellow revolution in India gradually faded away when we look how it never shied to grow from 50 to 5.7 lakhs till mobile phones reduced it to oblivion. Joyeeta still remember the last call she made at the STD booth. Believe it or not, the call was made in 2016 itself. It’s quite a thrilling tale and like in a climax of our Hindi films pot boiler, the phone booth came to her rescue. She narrates, “It was either on

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that STD booth and calls were the saving grace like the cheap road stall food for the commoners. Vinodini reminisces of the last call made from an STD booth way back in 2007. “Yes, the booth was existent till as recent as that. I made the call from Mumbai to my family in Baroda where the booth was connected to a cyber cafe cum Xerox shop. I vaguely remember doing so since my cell phone was on roaming and making a call from phone booth was way cheaper than using

handsets back then.” There are practical lots like Mayura who says, “I don’t remember the last STD/ISD call made. I am not sure whether we should preserve the legacy as it is not a profitable proposition for booth owners.” The red shining or yellow booth forms part of our rich iconic legacy and it’s quite a debate to mull on its preservation. Joyeeta dwells, “Since everyone own their personal handsets, this icon of the past termed as yellow revolution is losing ground. But, it’s important to make this aspect of history alive since we may need them for instances of emergency.” The need to preserve the legacy finds echoes with Vinodini who stamps a definite yes. She avers, “The whole idea of an STD booth sounds so romantic today where everyone around is lost in their own little world of cell phones. Back then, when cell phone were unheard of, an STD booth was the go-to-places in times of reaching out.” It was an idyllic epoch like Vinodini says, the STD booth witnessed many love stories. She takes us back to those days, “Young lovers would grab their moments of privacy over mushy chit-chats over the calls made from the booth. Vinodini rues, “Sadly, the generations of thereafter could never enjoy those in-depths chit-chats which has now been reduced to monosyllables on Whatsapp chats.”

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Vishal Bheeroo worked as a journalist for three years in an English newspaper based out of Mauritius. He holds a bachelor degree in Economics. He loves to write & blog about all things related to India. He loves Indian cinema and dreams of making a short film, someday. He is currently working on a rom-com novel and a script for a short film. He is a huge Amitabh Bachchan fan. He loves poetry, travelling and reading. He is currently based out of Mauritius but has plans of returning home, someday soon.


SUMMER, SALT, AN

TOO MANY COOKS MAY SPOIL THE BROTH, BUT NEVER THE PICKLE! FOR, WHEN A BUNCH A LESSON OF UNITY IN DIVERSITY, BESIDES DELECTABLE PICKLES, OF COURSE.

diary of an indian

words INDIRA ANAND

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ND LEAPS OF FAITH

H OF WOMEN UNITE OVER SPICES, VEGGIES, AND SUNSHINE — IT RESEMBLES

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Growing up in Bombay in the ‘80s was a unique and special experience. Living in a bustling, cosmopolitan city, which was fast becoming a melting pot of cultures through people that converged from all parts of India into this city of dreams, to try their luck, make a life for themselves and leave a lasting mark of their culture on the city – every day brought something new to learn, something new to experience. I grew up in the suburb of Andheri and the building complex we lived in had about two-dozen apartments. The families came from all areas of India – Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Gujarat, Punjab and of course Maharashtra itself. It was a time in Bombay and in the world in general when religious and cultural barriers were almost non-existent and families from all castes and communities got together and celebrated every festival and occasion with equal enthusiasm and vigour, without giving the caste, culture or creed a second thought. Of course, we did not realise just how special this was at the time. It was like living in a little India. We had the honour of experiencing the richness of every culture across the country, while remaining within that small apartment complex. We found happiness in the smallest of things, and every day was joyful and full of new experiences to look forward to. One of the very special times of the year when this unity in diversity was demonstrated in a wonderful way was during picklemaking season. The scorching heat of summer brought with it that glorious time window in Mother Nature’s calendar that had all the necessary pre-requisites to make wonderful pickles that could be stored and enjoyed through the year. The entire apartment complex transformed into a flurry of activity. The fragrances wafting from each apartment would fool a visitor into thinking they had landed in a spice mill.

diary of an indian

And the building terrace! It was the ultimate point of convergence for all the activity. Spices would be laid out to dry on the terrace until the sun crisped them up so they could be powdered or pounded into the required consistency. Some women would mix all the ingredients for their pickle in a clear bottle, cover with a thin muslin cloth and place it on top of the great big water tanks to catch the sun and literally, let the sun’s heat act as the catalyst for a few days to blend all the flavours together into a delicious and cohesive whole. Still others like my mother would have great big buckets of raw mangoes that would have been soaked in a salt-turmeric mixture and would now be brought up to the terrace to be sun-dried. A spice and oil mixture would then be prepared and these mangoes mixed with spices and stored carefully for a few months until they were pronounced ready for consumption.

Almost anything that could be pickled would be pickled. The raw mango of course stood head and shoulders above the rest. While some would take the spicy route, still others would conjure up sweet and sour pickles. The type of oil, combination of sugar and/or spice and the preparation of the mango itself resulted in a staggering variety of pickles just from raw mangoes. The next ingredient that held a lofty place in the land of pickles was the lemon. Depending on the part of India you chose your recipe from, the lemon could be a spicy, sweet or sour pickle. I recall my Marwari friends sharing this absolutely blackened lemon which tasted like a slice of heaven. Lemon would be pickled with salt and left for years without so much as a glance, a testament of the patience and self-control that would be exercised to let the lemon work its magic. Still other unusual ingredients like the native dried fish and prawns, turmeric root, vegetables like carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, small onions, garlic, Indian gooseberries, the gongura leaves of Andhra… the list literally went go on and on, such was the plethora of ingredients available to play with. Since the entire apartment complex would be in the midst of pickling, it was common for women to go shopping in groups and visit wholesale stores to source ingredients at very economical rates and then split the ingredients among those who would be making the same type of pickles. It wasn’t unusual either for a group of women to make a few types of pickles jointly in bulk, and then divide the bounty among themselves. The efforts put in by the women into organising, sourcing, processing, scheduling and creating mouth-watering pickles for the entire year for their families was something amazing to watch. Their enthusiasm would remain high even if other things like work, home and children also needed to be taken care of. They all pitched in, turning the pickle-making season into something the entire community got together to pull off. Most women would attempt to step out of their native comfort zone and prepare pickles based on recipes collected over the years from their neighbours and friends. Thus, it wasn’t unusual for my mother to make her signature Aavakkaai pickle, but also manage to whip up a Gujarati Chunda at the same time. Once, my mother learnt a recipe from our Malayali neighbour and made this absolutely amazing pickle involving fresh green pepper! Today when I think back on those days of my childhood, enriched all the more by the different families and friends I made over time, it reminds me of the words uttered by Gus Portokalos in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding – “So, okay? Here tonight, we have, ah, apple and orange. We all different, but in the end, we all fruit.” If there was ever a day-to-day example of unity in diversity, this was it. Life gave us mangoes and lemons. And we made pickles!

Indira is settled in Dubai for the last 19 years along with her husband. She works in IT Operations. Her hobbies include cooking, reading, travelling the world, and other creative pursuits. A kidney transplant in 2010 changed a lot for Indira including her outlook to life and learning to live fully and in the moment. In her non-existent spare time, she dabbles in writing. She writes stories inspired by real life events for SiyaWoman. On her blog mykidneybeans.com, Indira writes fiction and about strong women who have made it through everything. She has also published an e-book on Amazon.

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THE BUILDING TERRACE WAS THE ULTIMATE POINT OF CONVERGENCE FOR ALL THE ACTIVITY. SPICES WOULD BE LAID OUT TO DRY ON THE TERRACE UNTIL THE SUN CRISPED THEM UP SO THEY COULD BE POWDERED OR POUNDED INTO THE REQUIRED CONSISTENCY.

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Thank you, MA! RECIPES THAT HAVE BEEN PASSED DOWN THROUGH GENERATIONS, SPICES THAT LAY HIDDEN IN TINY BOTTLES IN THE KITCHEN, PREPARATION RULES THAT DETERMINE THE SUCCESS AT EACH STEP, AND THE WAIT FOR THE FINAL PRODUCT TO BE READY - MAKING PICKLE IS AN ART THAT REQUIRES PATIENCE, KNOWLEDGE, AND LOVE. A GLIMPSE OF THE COLOURFUL WORLD OF A FEW RECIPES.

artwork & recipes RITU DUA

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Ritu Dua, a banker and teacher, now focusses on what she enjoys most: art. Self-taught, her forte is mixed media. Besides her charity exhibitions, she’s worked with an NGO, shown underprivileged children how to turn recyclables into art, and volunteers at Dubai’s Al Noor School. She has recently moved from Dubai to Mumbai, India and is spreading the love of art there. She also celebrates all things delicious at beneathmyheartart.blogspot.


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Chandu ke chacha ne, chandu ki chachi ko... Chandi ke chamche se chatni chatai...

Get up, get up n dance...........

phut du kya

Hath hawa me aise uthaao, tang se tango karke dikhao Come to kamariya jamke hilao, sans bharo tum sath me gao

Chacha se chachi boli, don’ t touch my chanya choli Aur chachi ne chacha ko diya chamaat 1, 2, 3, 4, chacha get on the floor

last word

Gao jab tak sans hai baki, gao itni jor se taaki Jo sunle woh gum ho jaye, chodke sab kuchh woh bhi gaye (Chandu ke chacha ne, chandu ki chachi ko Chandi ke chamche se chatni chatai) - (2) Chandu ke chacha ne mara chance Chachi ko bole dance wit me, cha cha cha Chachi babe babe, chal hat chat

Chandu Ke Chacha Ne Chandu Ki Chachi Ko... Aasma (Non-Film) Singer(s) Aasma

98 theindiantrumpet.com

Panchi ke jaise hawa me udd jao, aage aate aate piche mud jao Come to kamariya jam ke hilao, sans bharo tum sath me gao Nacho jab tak hosh hai baki, nacho jab tak josh hai baki Kal yeh pal aaye na aaye, jane kal ko kya ho jaye Get up, get up n dance..... Get up- n dance (till fades)


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