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Critical Acclaim

April 22, 2013

I have wondered in my childhood what it must feel like when you have just rendered a beautiful song and everybody in the auditorium gives you a standing ovation. Obviously it is something I can only wonder about in this lifetime since my vocal skills are nothing to write home about.

But , my inability to sing does not stop me from entertaining my family …actually, “only” my family. No, don’t start to sympathies with them. They don’t need it at all. We are a family which belongs together. And that simply means that we are equally endowed when it comes to vocal skills.  When in school choir, my father only did lip-sync…once he tried to sing the national anthem, he was terribly out of tune. Frankly, he doesn’t have a good voice either. But then neither does my mother, who has a sense of tune though. But a sense of tune is a bit useless without a powerful voice. My brother has a great voice and nobody in this world can deny that and he LOVES to sing, except he has no sense of tune. He begins a song and then somewhere gets lost and joins another song and realises after a minute that the song he is singing doesn’t exactly sound like the way it should…by that time, like a true sister I run to him to point out his mistake.

So, in such a family, I cannot be considered an outcast. 🙂

Kan Khara...tall and proud!

Kan Khara…tall and proud!

But as I have always pointed out…I have another family…that of stray cats and dogs. As far as cats are concerned, my singing was wasted on Dushtu. I don’t think cats can comprehend music as such. But dogs are more intelligent creatures and they understand humans more.

I was following my regular routine today…i.e, after an evening walk, relaxing on the swing with the dogs nearby. Since none of us had anything substantial to do, so I decided to entertain them and started humming. No reaction. So I went a step further and started singing a song – purano shei diner kotha (Auld Lang Syne)…a lovely song indeed but only when sung in tune.

So what was their reaction to my rendition of this beautiful song?

Well, I had barely finished singing one line when suddenly Kan Khara got up and started howling. And that prompted the other females and Poltu to start howling too. And it was one big singing club with all of them looking behaving like wolves. Loud and crazy and they just went on and on and on…

Needless to say, I was embarrassed. If everybody nearby stops and starts to look at you, if people decide to come out of their cozy living-rooms on to their balcony to see why the dogs are suddenly singing such a beautiful and melodious tune…and if you are found standing near those dogs at such a time…it is indeed an embarrassing moment.

I decided my best strategy at the moment would be to walk away and the moment I did that, they just stopped…all of a sudden, snapped right out of it. And I wondered…was I that bad? Or were they just accompanying me?  Whatever be the case, my singing seemed to have some effect on dogs!

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Whatz it like?

April 6, 2013

Unlike most women, I do not have men fighting over me. Instead, I have dogs fighting over me (a lot of them actually). And, I have to admit, I kinda like it too (yes, that sounds incredibly silly). 😀

Needless to say, my mother finds all this very disgusting. Infact she even refuses to walk in the park when I am around. But that doesn’t stop me from doing whatever I do (petting them, playing with them) and being whoever I am.

So this is what the routine is like –

My mother is most often caught up in television series and loses track of time till I tell her that I am going for a walk. Reluctantly she accompanies, with a stick in hand (as if that is going to help!).

The two spotted me in the park...

The two spotted me in the park…

When the dogs spot me, they run towards me (much to my mother’s dismay)…

And before I’ve had a good chance at petting all of them, a fight ensues. The fight is mostly started by K.K and the dog who gets beaten most often is Poltu. I don’t interfere because they are just playing really…atleast I think so.

And a fight ensures...

And a fight ensures…

Soon,  they forget all about me (its not me per se actually, its more of a territorial conflict. Its almost like I am a part of their territory, which cannot be shared.) …

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Finally after an extended session of whatever it was, they get bored of each other and let go…

But this post is not about how they fight with each other or what happens when I go out for an evening stroll. It is in fact about attitudes. Yes, that’s right… attitudes!

I had written a post a couple of months back about a dog called Blackie. Anybody who read that would think that our apartment was filled with barbarians (even I had sort of started believing that). Any group/society can be judged by the way it treats its animals and by those standards, ours wasn’t a compassionate one at all. In fact such was our insensitivity that most people in the apartment couldn’t see what was wrong in beating a dog to death. And I had almost lost all hope…

And then I saw a few kids playing with Poltu today, offering him something to eat. And I wondered what prompted them to do such a thing. Kids, who used to be mortified of dogs…

Then I realised…they had seen me running with these dogs and how I played with them. I used to have a lot of fun. Everyone in the apartment saw that (and sneered at me too). So I figured that they figured that if these chaps weren’t biting me, the possibility of them getting bitten is low. Infact they were missing out on a lot of fun. So they thought of joining the bandwagon…

I am not sure whether the repeated, persistent behaviour of mine got those kids to make a move. Or did they make it out of curiosity but they made one and that is what is important. I hope the kids realise how much love dogs are capable of giving and I hope they can make this a better place for them …

The Faint Shadow!

April 6, 2013
The Shadow

The Shadow

Introducing K.K

April 5, 2013

I thought it was time that I introduced the other dogs, especially K.K to my readers.

Even though pets and animals isn’t everybody’s favourite topic (as was pointed out to me several times), I shall still continue with the torture…you could say I am a true sadist 🙂

Introducing Kan Khara

Introducing Kan Khara

Kan Khara is a Bengali name (like Dushtu, K.T, Mishti and Poltu … all Bongs). A literal translation would give…  “straight long ears” . A befitting name for a change.

Kan Khara is everything that Poltu isn’t. She is smart, muscular, handsome, fast, fierce, aggressive, strategist, born-leader….I mean pack-leader. She is a no-nonsense kind of a dog. Incidentally, she is not into men (or women). In fact I don’t think she is the romantic type at all! Her main motive in life is to protect her territory…and her territory is everything that she lays her eyes upon! A bit of a Bandit Queen I guess…

(Oh yes, I’ve had a lot of time to notice all this… 😀 )

One must mention here that there are only 5 stray dogs in the colony these days – and my darling Poltu is the only male (though he is the least sought after…none of the bitches even care about his existence, let alone presence. So I guess it suffices to say that he is a lonely fella.) K.K till some time back did not appreciate his presence at all. I think K.K likes strong , muscular dogs who can match her level of energy. Poltu obviously doesn’t fall in that category, Blackie did. But after Blackie was killed (battered to death), she had no choice but to start tolerating Poltu, if only mildly.

Bandit Queen

Bandit Queen

Kan-Khara (K.K) can be a bit of a bully, especially for timid, harmless fellows like Poltu. If there is a good spot in the sun, a nice empty bench…it has got to go to her. She has her ways and there is nothing feminine about “any” of her ways!

And I am not sure how or when, K.K has started thinking that “I” am a part of her territory too. Even though that makes me feel special in a stupid way, it also makes things worse for Poltu (and my mother and me in a complicated way). So Poltu doesn’t manage to get very near me when she is around…atleast that was the case till a few days back…

Holi Hai!

March 27, 2013
Holi Hai !!!

Holi Hai !!!

I had to really work hard to make them pose thus…well, actually I sort of tricked them into playing holi with me…

Holi, I and animals go a long way back. As a kid (my brother never took me along to play Holi with his friends and I had none of my own…no, not because I was a completely unfriendly person but because there wasn’t anybody my age in my colony.), I used to really look forward to the festival of Holi, almost like every other kid. However, unlike every other kid, I would play Holi with cows…yes you heard me right, cows!

Then I grew up, moved to a new colony and found people my age. Finally I grew up a bit more, went to university and had a lot of fun.

This year, I wasn’t well so going out wouldn’t be fun (not that there are too many places to go to for Holi). So I stayed in my apartment and played with known faces. And one of those was poltu ofcourse. He brought a friend along (who was awfully suspicious of me in the beginning).

Whatz up?

Whatz up?

Brownie gets a bit suspicious…but Poltu couldn’t care less.

I want...I want...I want!

I want…I want…I want!

Poltu thinks: Has Fatso given anything to Brownie already. I want…I want…

Brownie thinks : No, wonder …men are sooo dumb!

(yes, Brownie is a female…though she is more muscular than poltu)

Brownie was right…my intentions were… 😉

See I was right!

See I was right!

Quickly put a bit of colour on Poltu…Brownie escaped…

Oh no no...no you don't!

Oh no no…no you don’t!

Thought I should put some on Brownie too…all in the name of “Holi” spirit! 😀

Brownie agreed to disagree with me.

Oh so there is food afterall!

Oh so there is food afterall!

Finally they were rewarded for their patience…with chicken salami

Fatso and poltu

Fatso and poltu

Poltu is always there, with or without food!

Not so bad afterall!

Not so bad afterall!

The day ended with Brownie finding me mildly likeable!

Posto – Aloo

March 25, 2013

This is a preparation of poppy seeds and potatoes. Poppy seeds paste is known as posto in Bengali.

Aloo-posto : A typical Bengali preparation of poppy seeds with potatoes

Aloo-posto : A typical Bengali preparation of poppy seeds with potatoes

Ingredients Required:

Poppy Seeds: 1/2 cup

Potatoes: 3 large

Green chillies – 2 to 3 (depending upon taste)

Nigella seeds/Kalonji – 1 tsp

Turmeric powder – 1/3th tsp

Salt- as per taste

Sugar- pinch

Mustard oil- 1 tbsp

Aloo- posto

Aloo- posto

Method of preparation

Soak poppy seeds in water for 2-3 hours. Grind well with little water so that the paste is smooth and even.

Wash and cut potatoes into bite size pieces.

Heat mustard oil in a pan/wok.

Add Nigella seeds/Kalonji and let it sputter.

Add potatoes and fry them for 1 minute. DO NOT add any water at this point.

Add salt. Add turmeric.

Fry till potatoes become soft.

Add poppy seed paste. Mix well. If mixture is too dry, add a bit of water.

Cook till water evaporates.

Serve with rice.

Malpoa

March 23, 2013

Malpoa is an Indian pancake, a sweet dish. There are many variants of making this dish. Each community adds its own touch to it. The malapoas offered to Lord Jagannath in Orissa are very different from those that my mum makes. In fact those are very different from Thakur barir ranna (Recipes’ from Tagore’s kitchen) too. Just a bit of trivia.

malpoa soaking in sugar syrup

malpoa soaking in sugar syrup

For Malpoa you would need the following ingredients-

Refined Flour/Maida – 1 Cup

Fennel seeds/saunf – 1 tsp

Green cardamom – 2

Milk- 1 litre

Sugar – 2-3 cups (adjust to requirement)

Water-4 cups

oil – 1 cup for frying

This would be sufficient to make nearly 20 malpoas.

Method of preparation-

step1 - heat milk

step1 – heat milk

Condensed milk

Condensed milk

Heat milk in a large vessel and reduce to half its volume. Keep aside and cool.

sugar syrup

sugar syrup

Make sugar syrup (heating water and sugar together in a pan). Keep aside. Remember the syrup shouldn’t be very thick (definately not one string consistency).

Maida, fennel seeds added to condensed milk

Maida, fennel seeds added to condensed milk

Add maida and fennel seeds to the condensed milk. Keep beating the mixture as you add.

Consistency of the mixture

Consistency of the mixture

The mixture should be smooth and of dropping consistency (not running consistency). If not, adjust by adding more milk to the mix. Only add cold (or room temperature) milk to this mix. Add crushed green cardamom seeds to this and mix well.

Drop mix in hot oil

Drop mix in hot oil

Heat oil in a pan and with the help of a spoon/ladle, drop the mix so that small circles are formed. The size of malpoa depends on the size of the ladle. Deep fry in medium flame.

fry the malpoa

fry the malpoa

Once golden brown, flip over to the other side and fry it till it is golden brown too.

fry till golden brown

fry till golden brown

Malpoa on a tissue

Malpoa on a tissue

Take them out once both sides are golden brown and put them on a tissue which soaks excess oil.

Dip malpoa in sugar syrup

Dip malpoa in sugar syrup

After this put them in warm (not hot) sugar syrup. It takes about 2 hours for the malpoa to become soft and soak in the syrup completely.

Serve hot or cold!

p.s- you could use jaggery instead of sugar. Malpoa can be made with curd too and left to be fermented overnight.