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Showing posts from June, 2010

That Man Stuart

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Sometimes you wonder, when you see or recall Mandakini under the waterfall in that seductive scene from Ram Teri Ganga Maili or the many other wet sari scenes in Bollywood and other Desi movies - how on earth the very idea came about. The girl in the waterfall or the girl coming out of the pond has been used for ages now as a scene to sell soaps and what not. Well, it must have been in the director’s mind or it may have just happened over the course of time since Forbes first wrote about the Malabar woman in the pond, but there was one person who wrote about the virtues of all this centuries ago. This is about that colorful Irishman who lived in Calcutta in the 18th century and decided that life is not all confined to what was taught at the Blighty.

Major-General Charles Stuart (circa 1758 - 1828) was an officer in the British Army in India and is well known for being one of the few British officers to embrace Hindu culture while stationed in India. In history books he has been titled…

The Primus stove & Gandhiji

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It was Maaji’s nostalgic article on the Janata Stove that took me back to our bachelor days and some connections between Gandhiji and the Primus stove.

I remember that mom had the same green and red Janata stove and as a kid I used to play with the lever that raised the wick up and down - up and down till I got a sharp whack on the back of the head and was shooed away from the kitchen. But it was a big relief for the women from the smoky adupu’s (even though the sawdust ones we had in Calicut were virtually smokeless) or fireplaces and the ‘kozhal’ that was used to stoke the flames. I used to blow (plooom – that was the sound) and blow through it when I passed the kitchen, for the fun of it and as usual got a crack on the head from any elder in attendance in the kitchen for destroying the peace and getting on her already strained nerves. Back to the Janata - If I remember right, there was a circular thing that you had to lower from the top to shut down the flame, by pressing on the wi…

Our new home, Moving in…

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And so, finally, after some 30 years of travelling, we moved into what we can now call our own home. That was the reason for my silence the last three weeks as it was back breaking work, literally and physically, getting all the stuff into the new house, with no time to spare. The garage is still littered with boxes, some containing stuff that we held on to and which had remained unopened for many years now. As we moved from continent to continent, country to country, they followed, in silent tow, filled with items that triggered memories, but not much else. Now the task of finding them resting places or disposing them is yet another arduous one.

It was fun actually, locating the place to live and finding a home that we liked. The construction phase in this lagging market took a while, and as we eagerly waited for the building to take shape, frequently checking up on the progress, we learnt some of the nuances in the American way of building a home as opposed to the Indian one which …