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Saturday, 17 September 2016

The Name is Chokka, Chokkalingam!

For those who came in late, the foreword of my autobiography has already been written. In case you missed it you can click on this link here! The same is the handiwork of a fairly nice dude, I must say!

I am told I am Chinese. Now! Now! Don’t you immediately think I am a cheapo like most things Chinese! I just mean that my ancestors first made their appearance in China and like most things Chinese nowadays which the world imports, so was my breed, to India in this case. My friendly neighbourhood Vet confirms that unlike most Chinese products, whose lifespan is a lottery, I am likely to be around for 15+ years. Sadly for you but you ain’t getting rid of me in a hurry!

One of the first experiments that I was subjected to was my branding. Before we proceed with the story let me warn you. My name is NOT Vodafone Nai! Or its North Indian equivalent, Vodafonewala kutta! And don’t you dare call me those names ever, ever, ever again. Not unless you would like to have appointments with the injection syringe! 14 times at that! GRR! WOOF! WOOF! To continue from where I left, various brandnames were proposed, dissected, rejected, debated and finally decided upon. Branded for life! The names bandied about among others were Google, Twitter, Roger, Pixar, Goofy, Snoopy…….! As mostly with you Indians, consensus was elusive. Finally I was named Pluto over a division, the majority comprising of the Homemaker, The Foreword Writer and our Dilliwali Sister outvoted the dude whose credit card was swiped which concluded the paperwork for my homecoming! The Credit Card Dude though wouldn’t take things lying down and just like the rebel MLAs in political parties of Tamilnadu walking out of the parent party and forming a new kazhagam, I was made to go through another naamakaranam ceremony. Post which my visiting card reads Chokkalingam! 

Pluto alias Chokkalingam? Chokkalingam alias Pluto?

There was a heated debate on this name too. The members of the original Kazhagam who had at first refused to do business with the Credit Card Dude later, just like all the kazhagams of Tamilnadu talk among each other to form an alliance once elections are announced, the ice was broken. The point of debate was how can one keep swamy paer for a dog? asked the Homemaker. “Don’t call him a dog! He is my brother!” screamed the Foreword Writer breaking ranks from the original kazhagam, once again as is the usual practice. I was beginning to like this guy more and more! “God is omnipresent! He is there inside every being!” Thus spake the Credit Card Dude sagely. Just as I was about to turn on the ‘Love-O-Meter’ towards him too, “Including Dogs!” he finished. The ‘Love-O-meter’ was promptly switched off! But the view prevailed and this nomenclature too stuck! 

Selfie with The Foreword Writer

If you thought with that the entire naamakaranam episode had come to The End, you have another thing coming. Once the dust settled, the names went for a toss. The Homemaker calls me Kundala Bujaang and Bujjimaaa. The Foreword Writer calls me Chokulan-Na-Kokoon. The Dilliwali Sister over skype and phone calls me Ajjulibaa and Babulal! What nonsense! My final ray of hope, The Credit Card Dude carrying his liking for twitter has thrust brevity on me too, Chokka being the result.

Kundala Bujaang,Babulal,Chokulan-Na-Kokoon,Bujjimaa and Chokka!

For someone who is supposed to be blessed with only aindhu arivu, the chore of remembering so many nomenclatures was proving to be pretty difficult. Add to it that I found this entire exercise of imposing an alien language on my poor Chinese soul was quite trying. Finally of course I found a way out to deal with both the problems, of the name and the language.  I took inspiration from those ‘naarth Indians’ who after living for more than a decade+ in Bangalore picked up the most essential words in the local language, “Kannad Gothilla!”. I also took inspiration from The Bard who said ‘What’s in a name?”. I Put the two inspirations together, washed them, rinsed them thoroughly and out came my magic solution. I no longer respond to Chokka or Pluto or all the other gibberish I am addressed as. Instead I respond only when someone calls out “Sappadu!”

PS: That friends was Chapter I. You never had it so good, didn’t you? Woof, Woof!! Till the next episode!

Sappadu : Food
Kannad Gothilla : Don’t know Kannada
Aindhu Arivu : Literal Five minds. Figurative, blessed with lesser mind.
Swamy Paer : God’s name.
Dilliwali : Women/Girl from Delhi
Nai/Kutta : Dog
Kazhagam : Political Party
Chokkalingam : Another name of Lord Shiva
Naamakaranam : Naming ceremony

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Slurrrp of an Invention!

Necessity is the mother of all inventions. Thus spake a wise man, not me! (Then why did so many unnecessary things get invented spake another wise man, not me again, but we will let it pass!)

Vinayagar, Ganapathi, Ganesh

The Story began on a Vinayagar Chaturthi day eons ago. As the Thoranam were tied, Maavelai adornded the doors, the shouts of ‘Ganapati Bappa Morya’ rang the air, the fruits, thengai, vetthalai-paakku were bought and ready, the welcome ceremony of the remover of all obstacles, the Elephant Headed Vinayagar was still incomplete. It patiently awaited the arrival of that one item in the menu which is supposedly the favourite of Ganpati. There can be never a Sri Ganesh of Sri Ganesh without kozhukkattai spake a wise man, me too among many others. (Kozhukkattai. Dear North Indians: Don’t please do to Kozhukkattai what you did to Azhagiri or Kanimozhi or Tamizh. Kindly don’t massacre it by calling it कोज़्हुककट्टई, खोयाकट्टाई, कोईकट्टा! The closest I can permit you is कोयाकट्टाई. Else please stick to Modak which is the ‘naarth Indian’ equivalent of it. Welcome!)

Kozhakkattai is essentially Coconut+Jaggery mixed together, placed inside a rice cake and steam cooked. @Sporty_Baba informs me that some friend of his called Kozhakkattai/Modak a meetha momos. However sacrilegious he, and me might have found it, I think the description is fairly spot on! But then I digress.

The star of the story, (Your mother, wife or Jiggs Kalra or whoever started making Kozhukkattais) came to a major hitch. It was invariably found that the stuffing called pooran/pooranam and the rice dough were never made in the right balance. Either of it was more in quantity. The frequent remaking of either the dough or the pooranam was proving to be futile in balancing the quantity. The Lady in question came out with a way around the difficulty. Once the pooranam was over, she came up with another pooranam which was salty, dhal and salt replacing jaggery in the concoction. And Uppu Kozhukkatai was born to give Vellam Kozhukkattai company. (It is not known whether Ganapathiji liked this too as no reference was found in the shastras but given that he was the world’s first foodie, we can assume, he liked this development too.)

If you thought that aal izz well from this point onwards, read on. The problem only increased manifold. In the earlier case one had a mismatch of pooranam and maavu, it now graduated to mismatch of two types of pooranam and maavu! Back to square one you ask? No! The by now wiser lady didn’t fall for the ring-around-the-rosy routine. Instead she rolled the left over maavu into small balls, fried it over a medium glow along with seasoning. LO AND BEHOLD! The new marvel! Ammini Kozhukkattai! The often ignored and taken for granted delicacy. Making innovation work for you. The necessity giving way to another mighty invention! We have, yet again no clue if Vinayagar liked this newest addition to the Kozhukkattai family, but given the fact that he was the world’s first foodie, we are sure he likes it. As does my junior; nay he loves it. As do I. And as will you. So will @sporty_baba when he tastes it. Sooner hopefully that later!

PS: Just said Happy birthday to Krishna (Uppu Seedai, Vella Seedai, Murukku, Thenkozhal, Adirasam, Puttu and Payasam. Just said Happy Birthday Vinayagar with Kozhukkattais of the above mentioned variety. Next up is Onam, when we welcome Mahabali with sadhya and Paladapradhaman. Then Navratri. Then Dipawali. As a wise man, me, once said, the path to nirvana is through the stomach!

Pooranam : Stuffing inside Kozhukkattai
Uppu : Salt
Maavu : Dough
Vellam : Jaggery
Meetha : Sweet
Shastras : Hindu Holy scriptures
Sri Ganesh : Also a euphemism for auspicious beginning! 
Maavilai Thoranam:

Thengai : Coconut
Vettahalai-Pakku : Betel Leaf and nuts