“Ladki hai ek, naam Rajani hai
Rajani ki ek yeh kahaani hai…
Rajani, Rajani, Rajani… “
I know, I know, I can’t sing a recognisable version of it so here’s one – more recognisable, not to mention more musical one! YouTube link.
…thus goes the jingle for a very popular serial aired in the eighties. The story is that of a woman – played by Priya Tendulkar (may she RIP) – a crusader for social causes – who simply cannot lie down under any injustice, any time, any place. She carries her many flags as stylishly as she wears her saree and was a huge inspiration to me in my teens.
Corrupt government bureaucrats, errant auto drivers, rude bus conductors, unfair school practices… whatever the cause, Rajani was bound to be there, wading in without a care to the consequences. I think this was what attracted me to her first – that devil-take-the-hindmost attitude. Already keenly alive to the many unfair practices in our country – from the time I was first unjustly punished by a school principal at the age of ten (yes!) for something I was completely innocent of, the sense of unfairness rankled deep within my soul.
Rajani showed me how to fight – though I must credit the first inspiration for this – my aunt – Malathi Mohan – who was a bit like the John Wayne of toilet papers – she’s rough, she’s tough and she don’t take no s*** from nobody! (That’s a BIG compliment, Pinni!)
Of the many such fights that I was involved in, one I remember – a telephone conversation with a transport official – went something like this:
Me: Hullo, hullo…
Transport chappie (hereinafter called TC, to make it short and pithy!): ullo, ullo…
Me: (very politely): I am calling for information on the bus service to J.Hills. Could you list the timings of the buses from “X” stop to J.H between noon and 3.00 p.m. please?
TC: One minute, madam. (I hear paper being shuffled (this is the early ’80’s, remember and computers haven’t made an appearance anywhere yet)… and reels off some eight or nine different timings…
Me: Do you have any inspectors on this route?
TC: Why, madam?
Me: Because (and I take a deep breath before launching my tirade), I have just waited THREE whole hours for a bus and not ONE b…..d bus has turned up!
I then proceed to give him several pieces of my mind, my opinion of the entire transport department and their ancestors who, I am positive, do not know the names of their fathers etc. etc.!
My dad, who’s been listening in on this and many other similar ‘coversations’, dubs me Rajani after my favourite TV character of the moment!
Well, I may no longer be so forceful in my expression of disapproval but the spirit of Rajani is still very alive in the soul!
Well, the spirit of the crusader still has to be fuelled! By the ‘correct’ kind of nutrition, right?!!
Like this awesome and unusual Gujarati dish called khatta moong… (recipe courtesy my sister-in-law – Kalpana. Thanks, Kalpu!)
- Green gram (moong) – 1 cup – soaked for two hours and drained. Pressure cook till soft but the grains are still separate.
- Sour yogurt – 2 cups
- Gram flour or besan – 2 tbsp
- Sugar or jaggery 1/2 tsp (optional)
- Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
- Turmeric pwd – 1/4 tsp
- Grated ginger – one inch piece
- Sunflower or any cooking oil – 1 tablespoon
- Cumin seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
- Green chili – 1 minced.
- Asafoetida – 1 generous pinch
- 1 sprig of curry leaves
- Fenugreek or methi seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
- Salt to taste
- Chopped fresh coriander to garnish
Whisk together the yogurt and besan along with 1.5 cups water. Add the salt, sugar,turmeric, red chili pwd and asafoetida.
Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add mustard seeds. When they crackle add jeera, ginger and green/red chili. Add curry leaves.
Add the cooked moong and cook, covered for a couple of minutes.
Add half a cup of water and gently pour in the yogurt-besan mixture.
Cook for about four minutes and switch off. Garnish with coriander and serve with hot phulkas or jeera rice.
P.S: I doubt any of the saas-bahus of today’s TV viewing will serve as inspirations to any young woman! Long live Rajani!