I think all short people nurture a secret hankering to be tall – it seems so unfair that the few, very few inches more that we are asking for are denied to us when other people, including ‘the tallest man in Madras’ at one point, towering above us all at 6’7″ had so many that they didn’t really need!! The same goes for a ‘big’ personality – the bane of my life in my college years was what I thought of as my ‘pipsqueak’-y personality! When the lady upstairs answers your prayers, sometimes they are answered in unexpected ways. I’ve now got all the inches I ever prayed for – (maybe if I’d been an engineer, I’d have given the correct specs) – because they’ve all got delivered – horizontally! I might add that writing this blog has also added several inches to my “personality” as they say in Andhra!
I don’t really remember praying for any extra height though – a few extra calcium tablets being the most I ever did in the hope of growing taller… but I do know people, many, many people who will pray for almost anything under the sun – “God, please, please, please let India win this World Cup match against Pakistan” (with I am sure equally fervent prayers being said on the other side!), “Please, please get me the prize for the best rose garden category and even if I don’t get it, please don’t let it go to Mrs. X no matter what you do!” (from a highly competitive aunt of mine in Hyderabad) or like I wrote about a few days ago “Please, please let me get a problem-free girlfriend!” – a prayer to Golu Devata in the Kumaon hills.
Now for most of us, what do we do when our prayers don’t get answered – as they have a habit of doing? We shrug, we rationalise, we tell ourselves we didn’t really deserve it (if we are honest) or that we really didn’t want it (if we are sour grape-ing!), that the best prize for roses was ‘fixed’ anyway and so on…. but not so with this tribe in Central India. Like most of us, they too make bargains with the deity – “I’ll do this for you (kill a boar, offer you a shell necklace, not steal that guy’s wife)” and in return you do this for me (let the boar fall into my lap – then I have to kill it in self defence, settle for a seed necklace, provide me with a younger wife who will bear me many children) etc. So the devotee does his thing and keeps his part of the bargain. The deity does not always oblige with the ‘correct’ answer… what then does the devotee do? Rationalise? Shrug it away? Indulge in existential angst? Naaah – all too lame and not satisfactory. What he does, however, is to clutch hold of the nearest broomstick and proceed to beat the moorthi or the statue – black and blue! After he has sufficiently vented his spleen, he wipes his hands and walks away – free of all existential angst and questions of “why, me?” What a brilliant solution to an everyday problem and what a beautiful, direct relationship with god!
Hmmm… i think it may be a good idea to tie up with broom manufacturers before they start using the new adline!
To go back to the days when I wished for a few more inches, there were many ways in which I tried to be BIGGER and BADDER (that was the dream, you see!) than i was! During my hostel days, we’d decided to put on a production of “Red Riding Hood”. Being one of the shortest, I naturally insisted on being cast as the BIG BAD WOLF while one the big guys played Red Riding Hood! Borrowing a pair of size 12 boots from a bemused junior whom I woke up from his siesta, stuffing the shoes with paper so I could fit my feet in, I proceeded to clomp around ths stage baring my wicked teeth – till i tripped over said boots! Ah, well, till then it was great fun and I was BIG and BAD!
And what do you think Riding Hood had in her basket? Yummy hostel food on which I used to gain pounds which I lost every time I went back to Madras! I swear!
One of those things on which one put on weight…
BREAD AND FILLING
8 – 10 slices regular bread – slices cut into triangles
1 cup mint and coriander chutney (grind together 1.5 cups mint leave, 1.5 cups coriander leaves, 1 tsp sugar, salt, 1 flake of garlic, 1/2 tsp chaat masala or pani poori masala) and juice of half a lemon)
Boiled, mashed potatoes – 3 large. mash together with:
Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp
Green chili minced – 2
Coriander leaves – chopped – 1 tbsp
Dry mango powder – 1/2 tsp or juice of half a lemon
Besan/chickpea flour – 1.5 cups
Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp
Ajwain/caraway seeds/omam – 1/2 tsp
Mix together to a medium thick consistency – it should coat the outside of the slices.
OIL to deep fry – 2 cups
Spread the green chutney on one side of each triangle. Place two tbsp of potato filling on it and spread to the edges. Place one more triangle on top and press between your palms. Dip each triangular sandwich into the batter and deep fry on medium heat till golden brown.
Serve with ketchup or this awesome Himalayan sauce that I’ve just discovered.
Dry mango (amchur powder) – 2 tsp
Roasted jeera/cumin powder – 1 tsp
Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp
Jaggery (if you like it sweet and sour) – 2 tsp
Mix together with water to form a thin sauce – it is incredibly delicious and tangy.
Want a broomstick?? One way to get the prayer to lose weight answered might be to bend down with the broomstick and ……sweep! What were you expecting?!!