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Memories of life in Manas (Part 2)

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The poor little tiger cub



This little fellow stayed with us for only a few days. It was an orphaned cub, the mom had been killed by poachers. I remember how excited everyone was, regarding its future and upbringing. I did not think it to be big deal then. The cub seemed more like a kitten to me, the way it would keep on crying. Unfortunately, it died one day when Deta had gone on leave to drop us off at our grandmother’s place. It had been a big setback then and I remember my parents getting quite upset.

I recall telling my new friends about the tiger cub when we shifted to Guwahati from the jungle. They had rolled their eyes and were absolutely incredulous till they saw the photographs. I was amazed, in turn, that the city kids had never seen a tiger in their lives. But the best moment remains the time when one of the kids’ moms had asked me once - what we did in the late afternoons (play time) in Manas. I remember replying innocently that I would be generally found riding on elephan…

Memories of life in Manas (Part 1)

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I love going through old photo albums. So many memories encapsulated in each frame, each telling a story.  All unforgettable.  I had sneaked out a few pictures from the albums at my Guwahati home, pictures from my childhood in Manas Wildlife Sanctuary. But with my topsy-turvy world, I am pretty sure that they will get lost some day. Before they do, perhaps I should record my memories of these images. I have never checked with my parents regarding the background of these pictures. I was never too good at asking questions and always assumed my own answers/interpretations. And so it is my own memories that I shall write of here. 


I guess I will be going on a long, sentimental journey.

My Aita (grandmother)



This is one of my all-time favourite photographs, although I have no memories of it. I am being carried here by my grandmother (now expired), who was and will remain the person I loved the most. She must have treated all her 16 grandchildren equally and yet made me feel so special. I sti…

Ma's Vegetable Cutlets

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This is what I had at home one evening. Made by my mom…and my dad (in a slightly less prominent role). Ma knows that I have not changed all these years – I am still wracked by hunger pangs in the evening as before and go crazy if I don’t get something to eat. Fast. 

I remember these cutlets as being part of my birthday party menu, held for my friends in my childhood. There would be either egg chops or vegetable cutlets, along with lusi (puris), thick butor dail (chana dal) and chocolate cake, amongst others. There was a different menu for relatives who would drop in for dinner.

It was a beautiful trip down memory lane as I devoured one of my favourite snacks after so long. Ma also makes an amazingly flavorful fish cutlet, but that is for another post. Let me first share with you my mom’s recipe for the vegetable cutlets. Simple and delicious! 

Ma’s Vegetable Cutlets




Ingredients:

4 potatoes, boiled and peeled
2 bread slices, shredded to crumbs
1 cup vegetables (diced carrots, beans and pea…

Chocolate Ice Lollies - the Doodle way!

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I used to be a voracious doodler in my childhood. The margins of the first books that I read, Mahabharata and Ramayana, were filled with my own depictions of the events. While at school (3rd/4th standard), we were told that if we accompanied our answers with pictorial representations, it would fetch us better marks. It tickled the artist in me and I would fill the pages with various food images to illustrate sources of vitamins. I wonder now if the teacher laughed softly or really hard looking at them.

A few days back I came upon this contest that required us to doodle our way through a recipe. It made me stop in my tracks and ponder if that doodler still resided inside me. Rather, should I unleash that doodler upon unsuspecting readers (if at all anybody stumbles onto my page)? I decided to prod out the child of yore and make her doodle about the food she had enjoyed most during her childhood. The recipe that you see here is what we had concocted as children at our grandparents’ place…

That fateful summer night...

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It was during the summer of 2003 that I decided to do my MBA internship in an IT firm in Mumbai. Before the madness started, I came home to Guwahati to spend a few days with my family. I was to board the Guwahati – Mumbai train thereon since flight fares were unthinkable for a student those days. It took around 3 days to reach Mumbai and Ma could not imagine me sitting amidst strangers all alone for so many days. Hence, Deta (my father) offered to accompany me to Mumbai and see me to my aunt’s place there.

We were late in booking the train tickets and the AC compartments were all full, leaving us with 3 Tier sleeper seats. Deta and I got the vertically arranged seats near the door of the compartment. It was end-June and the heat seared us through the door and the windows. To add to it, the train was to travel through Bihar and our compartment was packed tight with people heading for Bihar. Ticketless, all. They squatted on the floor, some squeezed into spaces on the berths, ignoring a…

Happy Lakshmi Puja!

Today is Lakshmi Puja for us Assamese. Or, as we like to say, Lokkhi Puja. In fact, it is a double whammy for us since Kati Bihu also falls today. Kati Bihu is a relatively solemn and low-key event, unlike the other two rumbustious Bihus, Bhogali (harvest festival) and Rongali (spring festival). This day, we light a single diya under the tulsi plant and seek blessings for a good crop. 

I have always had a love-hate relationship with God. I remember running to the Puja room at my grandparents place during cricket matches and praying fervently for India’s win. All nine of us cousins would prostrate in front of the idols and ask God to make the opposing side lose horrendously. During those days, there would be frequent power cuts, and while we didn’t mind it going off during study hours in the evening, we would be driven crazy if there was a power cut in the middle of a cricket match. We would then create a ruckus and gallivant around the courtyard furiously to burn the restless energy wi…

Looking for birds around Galibore Fishing Camp

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It was on a trip to Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary in August (2013) that we first decided to take a quick peek at Galibore Fishing Camp. The camp is located around 30 - 35 km from Sathanur, the junction where you take a left towards Cauvery WLS, from the main road. (There is a board showing the ways, both towards Galibore as well as Bheemeshweri Fishing Camp. So it’s pretty easy to follow.) The day was a cloudy one with low light and by the time we reached the area known as Sangam, darkness had already set in. There was an unpaved road leading towards the camp, through the jungle, and we thought it wise to leave Galibore alone for another day. 

That ‘another day’ came last Sunday, on 13th October. We had taken my parents to Cauvery WLS and after quite an uneventful morning and afternoon (by previous standards), we made our way towards Galibore. In sharp contrast to our earlier trip, the Sun was displaying its full charm and clouds were nowhere to be seen. As we drove towards our destinatio…

Ma and the Monkey

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My parents are a-visiting and last Sunday we decided to take them to Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, some 120 km from Bangalore. My mom is what you call an ‘enthu cutlet’. She was happy and chirpy and gladly assented when we asked her to keep a look out for birds. Too bad most of the birds she saw turned out to be babblers. Again and again and again.  Oh well, never mind.

Soon, the road sides began to be dotted with bonnet macaques. Or in plain words – monkeys. Large joint families of monkeys sat by the road, eliciting angry comments from us. The husband and I were no big fans of this species. Neither was my dad. The only person who seemed to be all bright-eyed with the appearance of the monkeys was my mom. (And my son, but we shall not consider a two-year old’s definition of ‘interesting’ here)

“I love monkeys,” she said fondly. “Their activities are so endearing!”

We refrained from replying back. To make matters worse, people who were visiting the temples inside the jungle provided the …

Happy Durga Puja (2013)!

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How heartless and artless of me to wish everyone a happy Durga Puja on the day it is coming to an end. But then, I was busy soaking in the festivities the last few days and hardly had time to log in and wish everyone. The husband, meanwhile, had gone on an emotional trip down the lane while remembering his Durga Puja days in his hometown. Yet he managed to click these pictures when we went kind of pandal-hopping in Bangalore. Unfortunately, we forgot to carry our camera on the day we visited the pandals in Indiranagar and Koramagala. We also missed clicking pictures of that amazing dinner we had at Bangaliana. Too bad you can't see them etched on our minds.

Here are a few images of Durga Devi in all her splendor:

Durga Puja at Banaswadi


First ever held Durga Puja by Assam Society 


Durga Puja by Bengalee Association at RBNAMS Ground

Let's all wish for a fantastic year ahead and I am sure Goddess Durga will grant us that simple wish!

Mutton Korma for Happiness!

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The mutton korma and pulao that you see in the picture above? It could well have been my Durga Puja dinner but then….yeah, that was my birthday dinner. Cooked by the husband, from start to finish, all by himself. I had grown up with mutton curry and pulao as permanent fixture on my birthday menu for years and so he quietly decided to treat me to a typical mangxo-pulao dinner. Since mutton/goat meat/lamb had almost disappeared from our lives, it was really a big treat for me on my birthday!
As a matter of fact, the husband had asked me how I wanted to have the mutton - fried or with a little gravy or with a runny curry. I felt so grand! Finally, I settled on middle-way and decided to have mutton with a little gravy. This goes so well with pulao or even lusi (puri) and it had been ages since I had a home-cooked version of it. The husband, however, wanted to make the dish a little ‘hatke’ from the mutton curry that we generally make with onions and tomatoes. He browsed through a few reci…

Masala Squid or Spicy Squid Curry

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I don’t remember where I had tasted squid for the first time. Most probably in Goa. If it is Goa, then most probably at Brittos since their seafood platter had some amazing dishes (shrimp cocktail, stuffed crab, fish and chips, butter garlic squid/calamari). I recall our trip to Goa with my parents and aunt’s family back in 2008 where I was assigned the task of ordering lunch. Obviously, I tried to show off a bit and rattled off a number of ‘local’ dishes with the air of someone who had Goan food every other day. Partly true - there was a small family-run restaurant near my office serving authentic Goan food at nominal rates. 

Anyways, I had included a squid dish amongst others for lunch. My aunt was a bit baffled at this and quietly asked me what a squid was. Now I am very bad at explaining stuff. I rolled around several descriptions in my mind and finally came up with “It’s a kind of octopus.” My aunt recoiled in horror and relayed the answer to her sister (my mom). Both the ladies…

Tangy Pressure Cooker Paneer (Cottage Cheese)

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My parents are here for some time while the in-laws are away in Assam to celebrate Durga Puja with the other grandchildren. Suddenly, I am no longer the apple of my parents’ eyes. All they can think of is their grandchild, my two year old brat. I am no longer their centre of the universe – that position has been proffered to the gibberish-speaking toddler. They are delighted at every syllable he utters and at every little action. They go into a tizzy at every little sneeze and every little cough. I am driven to frustration by Deta’s countless accounts of “Has he eaten?”, “He must be hungry”, “He is feeling cold”. Ma, in the meantime, gives me accusatory glances whenever the kid opens his mouth to bawl. 

But then, that’s what my maternal grandmother had done as well. Every time we went to her place during vacations, I would be pampered royally and Ma and my aunts would be directed to keep me well-fed. “Has she eaten?”, “Give her something to eat, she is hungry” would be her constant di…