Tarla Dalal: First Master Chef of India passes away

India is a potpourri of diverse cultures. People from different places outside the sub-continent had been migrating to India since ages. It is generally thought that most of the migrants whether entering for commercial purposes, in search of greener pastures for their cattle which was the case of Aryans, or for grabbing and establishing their hold came generally through the Western corridor. This was not the only way people entered India. Parsees came by boats and ships first to Gujarat and then spread to other parts of India especially Mumbai. Ahoms entered India in the North East. Arabs arrived in Southern India in Dhows long back.

Each arrival of the alien people brought with it the different cuisines like Mughalai, Parsee and others. Earlier when the people did not mingle with each other, these cuisines existed in the pure form. But soon people in this field began experimenting with mixing out of curiosity or substitution of ingredients not available at the new place and this fusion of different cuisine elements resulted in different kind of cuisines.

Tarla Dalal was a noted food writer and wrote over more than 100 cookery books. She is credited with bringing together many diverse cuisines from different parts of India and abroad. Her TV programs were very popular because of her way of teaching like a mother to her daughters and in a light manner. At the time that she wrote her books, she was the only source. She kept the flavours alive, the tradition alive. And her recipes still work.

She began cookery classes in 1966 in South Mumbai where she had migrated in 1960 from Pune after her marriage with Naveen Dalal. She was awarded the Padma Shri in 2007. She was India’s first master chef. She was the trend setter in the field of spreading the cooking knowledge and made it simple way. Thousands of girls must have kept her cookery books as ready reckoner in their kitchen.

Born in Pune in 1936 and was 77 years old.

Now she has passed away after a brief illness at the age of 77. Posted on her Facebook page by her team is a message: Dear All,

We would like to thank all of you for your support and affection through the years of Mrs. Tarla Dalal’s career. She is no more with us as she expired in the early hours of this morning. We thank her for all the happiness that her talent has given to us and our families…

With all our love,
Tarla Dalal’s Team

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In Mumbai Again

After almost a year, I am in Mumbai the city in the vicinity of which I have spent more than 20 years of my life. I lived in Panvel where our company had constructed a huge accommodation. But most of the offices are in Mumbai and employees who live in Panvel have to spend at least 4 hours travelling to the work. There is though a trade off. In Panvel colony you have big area for walking and also lesser pollution. It is a gateway to Beautiful Konkan region as well as to Pune. There are a number of good natural spots nearby Panvel. We landed at Santacruz airport from Delhi. Temperature was 29C and as usual humidity was very high. The same stuffy weather which we have become attuned to during our long stay here. In fact, I loved this city for its oddities. But like Saleem and his sister in the Salman Rushdie‘s Midnights Children, I did not shouted back to Bom. We hired a taxi and soon we were lost in the sea of  people on the roads and vehicles. The familiar Udipi hotels, vegetable vendors on the roadside selling their vegetables and ubiquitous Coconut sellers and Koli women selling the sea fish, prawns were before eyes. There were same black and yellow taxis. Many new flyovers have come up in the city’s struggle to ease the traffic pressure. It seemed as if we have not got left the place for good and have been out of station.

Nature Captured

Presenting some pictures which capture the greenery and scenery around my dwellings in a place called Panvel situated near Mumbai in India. These are the months of Monsoon. Everything is drenched. The hills which were parched due to intense heat prior to the onset of rains, have worn the green outfit. Dust is washed from the leaves of trees which were wilting under the intense heat. Nature is celebrating and spawning the life. The frogs croak all night in the puddles of water. They mate and multiply.

Thick Clouds
It is about to rain
The Rill is Brimming
Greenery and Hills
Water and More Water
Beautiful Scenery
Resplendent Leaves
Wild Grass intense green
Grasses
More Grass
White Creamy Flower
Holding the flowers soaked in Dew
View from the roof

On the razor’s edge

There is a crossing in front of ONGC colony gate at Panvel on the old Mumbai Pune highway. Its purpose is to allow the safe passage to road users from colony to cross the highly busy main road while going in the Pune direction and coming from the office located opposite and from Panvel to enter colony. There are live signals on this crossing.

But your heart will start beating very fast and prayers will begin to be issued from your lips when you undertake any of the mentioned crossings. The time of signal is about 15 seconds. Even that is enough considering the small traffic as compared to the huge one on the highway. But no one on the highway heeds the signals. Worst offenders are the three wheelers and motorcycle drivers.

The situation is such that even in the green signal you will not be allowed to cross the road. Bus drivers of Mahrashtra state transport corporation with such heavy buses never bother to stop and have a look at the signal. When one breaks the signals others automatically follow.

The traffic police never posts anyone here for minding the traffic. They are seen here but not guiding and teaching the people but only booking the people for the incomplete documents. This exercise is always done just away from the signal and rule breakers slip away with impunity.

Although these pictures are not clear but they give enough indication about the fearless behavior of the drivers on the main highway. They disregard the traffic signals completely.

Not only that. There are big banners hoisted by all the political parties on all the corners of signal. These banners completely block the view on the road making the crossing even more perilous with the riders coming on the main road at neck breaking speeds. If you cross the road safely you consider yourself lucky. But luck is never the same for everyone. The need is to post a traffic constable on the regular basis and also educate the rural people who are major offenders.

Trying to Make a Beginning

It has been a long time since I put any words on the paper. Always I try and finds myself blank. There are many reasons. I waste my time of facebook and long to see those red circles reminding me about messages and comments. I try to read the book “White Mughals” which describes in detail about the lives of East India Company people in India, especially those which were residents in the courts of Mogul Kings, Deccan Kings, Pune and Hyderabad especially the Nizam. One such central figure in the book is John Kirkpatrick who was the resident in Nizam of Hyderabad. The military man was so much under the spell of India that he almost lived like a Muslim prince. He smoked a hookah, arranged for the nautch girls and married an Muslim girl called Khair-Un-Nissa for which he had to pay a very heavy price. The book also describes how Welsley colluded with Nizam and defeated and killed the Tipu Sultan in Shrirangapatam.

The book by William Dalrymple is highly researched. But I am not able to stick and concentrate on it or rather on any one thing. Sometimes I think about doing some scientific work like writing some paper but that too demands concentration and sitting determined on the data. I again drift somewhere. I see & listen some music videos on the youtube. Also I watch the old programmes which are shown on the DD Bharti which was the only channel available in Indian few years ago when television had made its entry in India. These programs are very good in content though technology is not so good as is expected in the beginning days.

I wake up early in the morning and go out for a walk. There also I carry on the burden of thoughts with me. Thoughts never cease and I sometimes myself lagging behind the other walkers and then I realise that I have been thinking and in the process of ideation. There are somethings about which I cannot do anything and find myself so helpless. I don’t know why some people don’t have any sensitivity towards the feelings of others. They blissfully ignore but never say two words of affection and love.

I am almost addicted to filling the crossword. It comes in the Mirror magazine and is not too much difficult. With some cheating and my own efforts I am able to complete it. But I find that many words and the names of  places which it often repeats does not come back easily. Then I also complete the Sudoku daily. On the average it takes about 7 to 8 minutes to complete. Then there are very funny tidbits in the Times of India paper which it claims to be scientific breakthrough. You can laugh at the methodology and the conclusions drawn from it. These are very funny indeed.

Anyway, I have again tried to write after so many days. Hope this will continue.

Bats

I live in a place called Panvel which is about 50 kilometers away from Mumbai. I am serving in ONGC and am not the original inhabitant of the place. But I have lived in this place for the past 16 years. This place has rich history. Its municipal corporation is the oldest in the Maharastra. It is a junction for going to Goa, Pune, South India. It is full of geographic features. Hills dot the panorama all around. There are many rivulets. It is on the sea coast. The soil is hard and rocky and is not fertile. Once upon a time, Shiva Ji, the great Maratha King, had a jetty and naval unit here. The express highway going to Pune crosses this city.

Today, when I was on my way to home from my office, it was getting almost dark but still it was twilight. Street lights have not come up yet. It is November and the weather is getting slightly cooler in the mornings and evenings. By the standards of North India this cannot be called cool. For some reason, I was not feeling like going to home.

What a person do in such settings? I was looking towards the heavens. There were stars here and there. If you continue to look longer and concentrate at a particular location in the sky, the stars seem to being born like the seeds sprouting. Soon the whole sky will be covered with the crop of stars.

Anyway, leave aside this poetical musings. I noticed a very strange phenomena. Huge bats, the size of big crows, were heading towards the colony from Panvel city side. Some of them were flying so high and crossed the colony trees which are in plenty. Though I was quite sure about the identity of these creatures, I for a moment confused them with crows. Also, I thought that they may be some stray animals. But they kept coming. As I reached beneath the big tress-again I am sorry I don’t know the name-some of the them were landing on the branches of these trees. Some were making sorties between the trees. There were sounds of nibbling and falling of the partially eaten fruits which these trees bear. These fruits are not palatable to humans, but they are favorites of parrots in the day time and bats in the night. You will always find the partially eaten fruits beneath the trees.

These bats were not of the small size usually found in the cities which were also there in few numbers in the trees.  These might be Indian flying fox variety which gorge themselves on fruits. It is known that these bats live in the coastal areas which are many here because the Panvel is coastal area. I suspect that these bats must be sleeping inside some holes of older trees or rocks and visiting for food in the night on the trees in our colony and beyond where there are more trees in the rural areas. Because our night is day for them and our day is night for them.

The bats are true flying mammals belonging to chiropetera order. Forelimbs have developed into webbed wings making them unique mammals capable of sustained flight in contrast to flying squirrels, possums which don’t fly but glide in air for short distances as the distance between two trees. I have seen the squirrels in Assam jumping a distance of about 8 feet from one tree to another.

Bats are awe inspiring creatures and frequently mentioned in literature especially mythology. There are vampire bats whose diet is blood. They suck the blood from the animals like buffaloes during night time. Bats locate their pray through the echolocation technology which is also employed by dolphins and whales.

There are certain moths, tiger moths to be precise, which also emit ultrasounds  by clicking warning the bats that they are chemically protected and thus fool them and avoid being becoming the food of bats.  I think I will look for them again tomorrow to confirm there activity.

Shaft of Light

Today I rose unusually late. It was around half past seven in the morning when I went out for walk. Though, it is Saturday, holiday for us, but this is no excuse for rising late and generally I stick to my morning time as I am out at about quarter to six.

I also changed my beaten track and went to campus of our colony on the other side of MumbaiPune highway which separates our colony and these offices. Crossing the highway, even in the morning is a task, which demands your mental faculties to be working at the peak levels. You can never find a moment when the road is devoid of speeding vehicles. In fact I cannot think of a time when this road have taken a peaceful rest since it was built and no vehicle has trodden on its chest. Day and night, it takes the beating of incessant traffic of vehicles.

Anyway, I went other side. I did not do any brisk walking in the beginning but slowly picked up my strides and then did 2 kilometer or so of jogging along the roads which run into the thick woods. It was misty and slightly hazy. I had my mobile phone with me and tried to capture some morning glory of nature. Camera is not good but I tried and took a photo of helipad and surrounding thick clumps of trees from which by Sun seems to be sending shafts of its rays. These looked like pale yellow rays not the robust ones as they are when the ambiance is clear. I took one picture and was surprised to see a shaft of light issuing from above the tree tops and hitting the ground like a sword.

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