Of political correctness, daughters and miscreant parents!

“AmmmaaaAAAA… ” rises a voice in protest… my daughter protesting yet another overly tourist-y thing her mother insists on doing or another politically incorrect thing said mother insists on blurting out and embarrassing her with!

“But I am a tourist. Why can’t I do touristy stuff?” I protest. As far as I know, “tourist” is NOT a four-letter word though with the e-splng  (e-spelling) outbreak, it might well become “trst” a word which will make mothers send their wards to the bathroom to wash their mouths out with soap for! That is, of course, when said mothers are themselves not spouting four-letter words like “Go to schl” or ” hv u dn yr hmwk?”!

My first time in America and I am feeling a bit like I’m on a roller coaster ride with stops for many splendid sights at all of which I have to gawk of course – that’s why toursist attractions are built, didn’t you know? So tourists like me can get a crick in their necks by craning them upwards at skyscrapers, sideways at the the greenery and every which way at all the goodies in the shops! Oh, and we forget the downwards in the Willis Tower at Chicago where you can not only get a crick in the neck but also the fright of your life as you look below your feet to the middle of the earth (that’s what it seems like).

And so I do embarrassingly touristy stuff like buying a pink straw boater in which I proudly strut about everywhere while hubby by my side has a white straw Stetson – between the two of us we look like two lumps of strawberry and vanilla icecream! To be fair, it is the same daughter who after voicing protests (well, that’s their appointed role in role in life. Otherwise who will keep irresponsible parents in order?!!) sees us trying on these hats with great glee in a travel plaza and buys them for us!

The same goes for political correctness – “No, amma, you cannot call them hipsters or hippies. Firstly they are not at all the same thing and both are politically wrong! You can only call them a commune!”

“How about a community? And why is ‘hippy’ a bad word? I think it’s a very cool thing to be – in fact, I’d rather like to be one myself!” I argue.

She sighs. “No, it is NOT (cool)! And no, you will NOT (call them that)!” she says very firmly – in that voice I used to use twenty years ago when I laid down the law – talk about role reversal!

I am not convinced but only make mild grunts of protest.

We move on to another place – to stay with the amazingly welcoming family of Vipra and Arun – who open up their home and hearts to us – again a truly inclusive sense of community.

Vipra seems to have a self-powered dynamo inside her and manages to get a million things done every day – all of it with a smile! She makes this amazing dal for us – along with ten other dishes – simple, everyday but quite, quite delicious.


  • 2 cups toor dal – soaked for a hour
  • 1 cup onions – chopped fine
  • 3 flakes garlic – minced
  • Ginger paste – 1 tsp
  • Green chilies – 1 or 2 -minced
  • Tomatoes – 1.5 cups – chopped
  • Turmeric – 1/8 tsp
  • Methi/fenugreek seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Jeera/cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Salt
  • Chopped coriander – 2 tbsp
  • Garam masala powder – 1 tsp
  • Oil – 1 tbsp

Heat the oil in a pressure cooker and add jeera and green chilies and saute. Add the onions and stir.

When they start browning, add the garlic and ginger and continue to stir. Add the tomatoes and tumeric and cook till mushy.

Add the soaked dal and fry for about 5 minutes till roasted a bit.

Add 5 cups water, salt and red chili powder and pressure cook for two to three whistles.

Switch off, let cool and add garam masala.

Garnish with coriander and serve with hot rice.

This is a one pot dal – no need to cook it first and then get the onions and tomatoes ready and add it later and all that fussy stuff!

And all politically above board too – ask your daughters!