vineri, 7 octombrie 2011

Casco si asigurari online

Asigurarea RCA, asigurarea Casco,asigurarea obligatorie de locuinte, asigurari medicale, asigurare de viata sunt acum asigurari online. Cele mai ieftine tarife le gasiti la noi ! Asigurarile online sunt potrivite pentru persoane ce stiu ca isi creeze mai mult timp liber pentru propriile pasiuni. Acum puteti sa realizati online o asigurare potrivita stilului de viata.

Asigurarile online sunt o metoda eficienta si rapida. Ofertele sunt numeroase, la preturi mici. Asigurarea RCA, asigurarea Casco,asigurarea obligatorie de locuinte, asigurari medicale, asigurare de viata pot fi realizate online.

marți, 15 martie 2011

Coconuts and Poochis

Like many, many households in the south, we have coconut trees in our garden. When I look out the window I can see our three, and four more from the houses beside and behind us. For years our trees provided us with all the coconut for our chutneys, and for the occasional glass of tender coconut water.

Lately, though, a lot of the coconuts have fallen from the tree before reaching maturity; some the gardener has cut down only to find that they had turned to dried husks. Last week one of the garden contract laborers who's been doing some temporary work here shinnied up to the crown of a coconut tree, and declared that it was infested with poochis (insects). He told Mary that if we purchased the ingredients, he would make them into a sort of poultice and apply them around the coconut stems, to kill or drive off the poochis. Rs. 25 per tree, plus a tip, for the labour and expertise.

Here's what Mary bought:

rock salt
sambrani (a kind of incense)
edible camphor (used here in some sweets)

The work was completed very quickly. I don't know how long it will take for the results to show, but we are well-poulticed now.


Chennai has just joined the cities which particpate in Metroblogging:
With almost 40 active sites, Metroblogging is the largest and fastest growing network of city-specific blogs on the Web. From San Francisco to Bangkok, from Karachi to Toronto, Metblogs are a hyper-local look at what’s going on in the city. Our hand-picked core of regional bloggers give each site a new perspective on daily life; less calendar listings, more friendly advice. With Metblogs, you can read about life and times in your neighborhood, your favorite places to visit, places where you’ve never been, or get a feel for them all with the daily “best of” blog on the hub at

I am one of the bloggers who is contributing to the Chennai Metroblog site -- if you go there, you can see the current list of participants. Like to join? If you would like to write regularly about the city for Metroblogging, please contact chandrachoodan[@]

A Gift

Yesterday the paperkkaarar came to buy our old newspapers, Diet Pepsi tins, magazines, empty bottles and so on. We usually call him in -- he cycles by with his cart every few days -- only after the shelves in the ironing room are bulging with stuff. Mary and Lakshmi haul more things out of Mary's room: bits of torn paper, scrap metal from valves and pipes which have been replaced, empty tins of canned corn, plastic milk sachets. The proceeds from this venture are shared among us, under a long-established system which I haven't fully figured out.

Yesterday Lakshmi was shaking the paperkkaarar's coarse burlap sack to make sure that it was empty, and this fell out:

The picture shows the actual size -- at least on my computer screen. It's a press for making sweets, or savoury snacks. I was attracted to the design inside. I said, "I'll buy this from you." The paperkkaarar said, "Go ahead, take it, no need to give anything."

So I received a gift yesterday. It fell from a sack. It is worth nothing, even to the paperkkaarar. And I'm ridiculously pleased with it.

A Gift II

I received several interesting comments / bits of information after my post about the little savoury mold that the paperkkaarar had given me (two posts back). They inspired me to actually use the mold; something which hadn't initially occurred to me.

We decided to make some turnovers (I don't know what to call them: they're certainly not samosas as I know them...), filled with the same filling used for potato bonda. Lakshmi made the turnovers, Mary fried them, and I took the pictures. Here's Lakshmi, sitting on the kitchen floor, where she has rolled out the maida (white flour) chappati, laid it over the mold, and is stuffing it with the potato mixture:

Here's the pressed, uncooked turnover. You can see the impressed design, but it's very faint:
And ta-da! Here is the final result - in which the design has disappeared completely - a luxurious tea of turnovers and strawberries. It was lovely.

A few thoughts about three movies

After a hiatus from watching movies on DVD, we saw three in three days: Memoirs of a Geisha, (the latest) Pride and Prejudice, and The Constant Gardener.

1. The most stunning scene for me, in Memoirs of a Geisha, showed a long strip of red cloth floating in a brown-black river. The camera moves from above along the length of the cloth, and it seems to take forever. A more dramatic scene shows the geisha standing on a cliff and throwing a handkerchief into the wind. It's shot from a helicopter, which pulls away so that first you see only geisha and handkerchief, and then a huge landscape of rocks and sea.

In Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth stands on the edge of a cliff, thinking that she really ought to have accepted Darcy's proposal of marriage. The scene is shot from above, from a helicopter, so that we see her small in a big landscape.

In The Constant Gardener, Justin and the local British intelligence agent - or whatever they're called in England ('intelligence agent'? can that be right? It sounds so hifalutin', so Graham Greene) - have a scene on top of a cliff, shot from a helicopter to reveal a dry African landscape.

By this time I was thinking, What's this? Is the cliff-edge-helicopter-shot the new car chase -- i.e. a scene which must appear in almost every film? (A car chase delivered the actors to the cliff edge in The Constant Gardener.) Or these are three movies with cultural pretensions, and therefore they have put their characters on high?

2. R says that when a character in an American movie says "Would you like a cup of coffee?" in the next scene they will be having sex. That's nothing new, but in The Constant Gardener the transition from offer of coffee to sex was quicker and more seamless than ever before, and R asked, "Is western culture really like this now?" When I saw Quest for Fire (1981) I laughed: the prehistoric man sees a woman bending over, doing some work, jumps on her, she growls a little but accommodates him, and they both move on. It looked like a parody of modern Western life. But soon it may depict its reality.

The sex scene had a different look: it took place in the daytime and was full of bright, washed-out light. It was shot at such close range that the actress's skin actually had the texture of skin, it wasn't all smooth surfaces and highlights and shadows. Probably because the director was not from Hollywood, but Brazilian: Fernando Meirelles, who made the great City of God.

3. One thing that these three movies did NOT have was a toilet scene. Come to think of it, the toilet scene is the new car chase - certainly it's much cheaper to film. Years ago I saw an animation festival in Washington. In one film, a character sits on a toilet, and then one sees from below long green stalks of asparagus emerging from her backside. Soon we will be seeing the real thing. (At least one Indian film, trying to appeal to an overseas Indian audience -- Salaam Namaste -- has a toilet scene. There must be more that I haven't seen.)

Two ads for the same product are currently running on Indian TV: in one, you see a urinal flushing, with the voiceover saying that if you don't use the product you're pissing your money away. In the other a toilet is flushing, the camera looking down into the bowl, while the voiceover says, if you don't use the product you don't give a shit about your money. I feel incredulous each time I see these ads, but I realise that it's about copying western popular culture.

I've been away from America for so long that sometimes I don't get the cartoons in the New Yorker; or I gape at American movies and think "What is the world coming to?" -- maybe it's just me, moving quickly through time to obsolescence. It's comforting at such times to rest my mind on an image of red cloth weightless in brown-black smoothly flowing water.

Several Things

Vijaysree Venkatraman, writer of the excellent A Propos of Nothing, has an article in the Christian Science Monitor: A spice box and a cookbook got her started, which includes a recipe for Indian beans and peas.

The photograph of a spice box which accompanies the article was taken by the author of Mahanandi, a luscious-looking Indian and western food blog which I hadn't come across before.

Food ... mangoes.... eating mangoes twice a day. We started with the mangoes from our own tree, not very interesting but dear to me because I watched them swell up in their tree overlooking the badminton court. On to banganapallis from the fruit vendor's pushcart. Then one day I went out and bought a box of Alphonse mangoes from Maharashtra. When we put the first bite into our mouths, both of us emitted an involuntary 'aaah', and then laughed, because they were so luscious, so voluptuous...

The Gujarati word for 'right hand' literally translates as 'eating hand.' I wondered if the left hand might therefore be 'toilet hand' or 'unclean hand,' or something like that, but it isn't.

We hired a new gardener. He started out as our watchman, who moonlighted as an auto driver, but he asked us to hire him as a gardener because he loved that work. He only requested that we match his previous salary from the two jobs. We agreed, and we like him and his work. One week after he made the changeover, his slum of 200 thatched huts burned down. The government gave the affected families Rs. 1000 each; and some local charitable groups donated casuarina poles and palm mats - including matting impregnated with tar for the roof. We also helped him. He took two days off and rebuilt his hut.

Four days ago he again took two days of leave, sending a message that an insect had bitten his face and it had swelled up. That didn't sound right to us; we suspected that he had actually been driving the auto again, to make some extra money. When he returned, he told R the truth: his neighbours had claimed that when he rebuilt, he had grabbed an extra four feet of land. They broke the hut and beat him up.

Lakshmi says that he married a woman from the fisherman community, and lives with them, and that they are all rowdies. Whether that's true or not, it appears that a gardener is no match for them.