Of men and women and a mutual admiration society of TWO people!

Loads of reading, loads of playing Quiz up on the ipad and generally loads of being lazy without ANY feeling of guilt – the aftermath of an operation is not that bad except for the pain! A cousin lent me this unusual little book yesterday – an English translation of a very old Telugu tome called “Chinnanaati mucchatlu” – the closest I can think of in terms of translation is “Reminiscences of Childhood” – anyone out there who’s got a better word – please write in. It’s a sort of autobiography of Dr.K.N.Kesari – a late 18th century – to mid 19th century Ayurvedic physician and his story of rags to riches. It is a simply told tale – reasonably poor translation (!) but with a wealth of detail about South India as it was then and some strange customs extant among different communities. Our hero, a Telugu guy, ends up marrying a Namboodiri girl as his second wife – his observations are fresh and related with some gentleness but with some aavakai like punch!

It was like a walk down memory lane – not my lane but my great grandfathers’! Kept thinking of my maternal grandmother and trying to see the commonalities (not many!) between her life and the lives of many of the women who feature in his story. Though my grandmom was a regular contributor of articles and poems to the magazine that he started for women – called “Grihalakshmi”…

Some discussion on fb today led me to track down something that my grandmom – Nemali Chandramathi – had written and published in 1949, tracked down by my aunt – Malathi Mohan a few years ago. Ammamma was lucky to be born and married into a family which held women in high esteem and brought up their daughters to have a good sense of self-worth. In an age where she must have witnessed less happy women all around, no wonder Ammamma came up with this little gem – a rejoinder to Shakespeare’s Ode to Woman, Ammamma titled hers “Ode to Man”…

A Rejoinder to William Shakespeare by Smt. N. Chandramathi


Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,

Thy head, thy sovereign.

One that cares for thee.

And for thy maintenance, commits his body

To painful labour, both by sea and land,

To watch the night in storms,

The day in cold,

Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe;

And craves no other tribute at thy hands

But love, Fair looks, and trice obedience.

Too little payment for so great a debt!”

And the original, William Shakespeare, “Taming of the Shrew”:


Thy wife is thy life, thy nurse, thy partner,

Thy friend, thy queen.

One that cares for thee.

And for thy children, by day and night,

In health and illness,

Whilst thou or on thy duty,

Away from home;

And craves no other tribute at thy hands

But love, kind words, and sympathy.

Too little a payment for so great a debt!

How’s those for period pieces – of two very different periods – separated by four centuries!

I think my grandfather was a very lucky man indeed!! A wife who thought so highly of men in general – can’t have been more than one born in those four hundred years between Shakespeare and her 😉

One of my favourites of my ammamma’s dishes was bread upma – which she transform into something quite magical! Today I’ve decided to go a step further and present my own take – a non-bread upma!

BORUGULA UPMA/UGGANI (to serve one large husband or two smaller ones 😉

Borugulu/murmura/puffed rice – 6 cups

Onions – finely chopped – 1 cup

Peanuts – roasted – 1/2 cup

Turmeric – 1/2 tsp

Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp

Green chilies – minced – 2

Coriander leaves – chopped – 2 tbsp

Lemon juice – 1 tbsp

Salt – 1/4 tsp (the puffed rice is already salty so you don’t really need more salt.

Sugar – 1/2 tsp


Oil – 1 tbsp

Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp

Chana dal – 1 tbsp

Urad dal – 1 tbsp

Curry leaves – 2 -3 sprigs

Asafoetida – 1 pinch

Soak the puffed rice in water for no more than 2-3 minutes. Immediately strain out the water and squeeze out excess water with your hands. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the mustard. When it splutters, add chana dal and urad dal. When they turn golden, add curry leaves and asafoetida.

Add onions and saute till they turn golden. Add all the other ingredients, turn over for 2-3 minutes  and serve – warm.

Super quick snack – man, woman or child – this is an ode to the tastebuds and the stomach!