Friday, April 25, 2008

Boundaries across bedrooms, living rooms and kitchens

Going back home to my paternal place in Assam in the month of November/ December used to be an annual occasion that I used to relish in those days. Playing in the fields with my cousins and other kids till it becomes dark, relatives pampering you as if you have descendant from some other land, those impromptu picnics aha.....those were the days. Gone are those days now, today I hardly find time to spend with my parents as we stay in separate cities. Someday I am going to write a description about those memorable picnics that we used to have!!!

My paternal place is located very near the India - Bangladesh border. Once when I was visiting there the Commandant of the BSF battalion that was posted there came to meet us. Apparently he was my father's student when he used to teach in a college at Nagaland, he took us on a tour of the border. It was a once in a lifetime experience for many of us. So, about 15 of us consisting of cousins, aunts, uncles, brother-in-laws decided to go and see those places near the border.

I came across a very strange house during the trip. There was this house where two brothers lived with their families, and the dividing line between the two countries ran right in the middle of the house. So, you have one brother who is an Indian and the other brother who is a Bangladeshi legally living under the same roof. One family's kitchen is in India, dinning room and loo in Bangladesh, and bedroom again in India and vice versa. So, what you get to do if you stay there sometime is cook in B'desh, eat in India, sleep and shit in B'desh or it could be the other way round depending on which brother's family you are staying with!

I was awed on seeing this and it actually took some to sink in. Trust me when you are actually standing in that house, you will just be overwhelmed. There was a stump like erection in the middle of the house which is supposed to be the demarcating line between the two countries. I never got another opportunity to go back and visit that house. This time when I go back home and if I find time to visit my paternal place, I will definitely go and visit that house. It has been more than 5-7 years since I saw that house, I just want to see if anything has changed with time in that house.

Today when there is so much talk about borders, countries, division and violence in the name of country religion, cast and creed it actually feels surreal to come across something like this. I am sure both the brothers have their own share of dislikes, tiffs and fights but they live together in 1 house as citizens of two countries, it actually feels good to know about something like this!!!

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Mystery of Spices.....

Delving deep into things has this ability to throw up surprises that you never really apprehended. This happened to me while I tried probing about the mystery of spices!! Did you ever think that there could be more to garlic, than being a spice that gives you a foul breath? Definitely not the right recipe if you are about to embark on a romantic evening with your partner! If you thought so, you are mistaken.....the Greeks and Egyptians believe garlic to be aphrodisiac and whats more, even modern science has seconded that through research.

This is not the part of any research paper, rather a movie brought these things and many other things to light for me! I was watching The Mistress of Spices and came across many interesting uses and qualities of spices that I never knew before, except probably for very few of them. I simply loved the movie just because of the way the properties of various spices were described. I have tired to put down some of them in here......

Chandan: - to erase bad memories
Til :- is a nourisher
Garlic : acts as an aphrodisiac
Saffron : attracts love
Cinnamon : helps in making friends
Kalo Jeera (black cumin seeds) : protects against the evil eye
Bharmi oil : cools down the entire system
Meethi(Fenugreek) : gives strength
Ajwain(carom seeds or bishop's weed) : builds up confidence
Fennel (Saunf) : perseverence
Hing (Asefoetida) : antidote of love
Tulsi (Basil) : for remembrance
Crushed Prishniparni burnt with lotus roots in the evening could bring back someone who is estranged
Powdered almond and keasr boiled with milk : for sweet words and remembering love buried under anger
Neem leaf : it is an anti-septic
Mustard seed : to send someone away from you
Cardamon : is to bind true love
Rendi oil from castro : to massage in joint pains and arthritis
Black pepper (with lime soda) : brings out your deepest secrets in the open
Lotus root: is for a lifetime of deep loving.......

The various ingredients used in supari are due to certain qualities present in them. The supari is for intoxication, the shreeded cocount is for uttering sweet words, the fennel seeds aid in digestion and the cardamon is to make words last forever. Of course, all those mentioned spices must be taken in certain quantities in combination with certain spices and at a certain time to get these results. So, the next time you need to dig a secret out from someone you could try serving lime soda with black pepper. You might just get lucky with this not so well known secret recipe...!!!