She Reads South Asia

SheReadsSouthAsia

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Indian Stuff

Well kindhearted Wendy has handed me the AW Chain baton and I've got my running shoes on, so let's get running with her thoughts on "stuff".

I didn't really want to title this post Indian "stuff", as somehow it makes it sound impersonal and that's not how I feel about all the Indian treasures I've bought over the last few years.

Without giving you a listing of all of them, which would seem impersonal, I'll try to describe them in their settings within my apartment in the form of a story. I'll put the meanings of any unknown items at the end for you.


Priya returned home from work, climbed the three flights of stairs and left her sandals in the entryway before entering her little apartment. The one good thing about her upstairs abode was the three windows in the first room always had a nice breeze flowing through. Sometimes the breeze was so intense though that her long, cotton, navy blue curtains with the gold design across the top had freed themselves from the gold tasseled tiebacks, which sought to retain them.

She fluffed the blue and green cushions on the couch on her way to the kitchen for the needed utensils to consume the chicken tikka masala, basmati rice, pakoras and naan that she had picked up from Kabob and Curry. The restaurant owner always knew to add a sweet lassi to the order before she even asked. Too tired to use one of her several Indian cookbooks and actually cook tonight, takeout was the answer.

Coming back into the living room, Priya flopped down to eat and finish reading Sharon Mass’ “Speech of Angels” for the second time. She still had several other books with decorative bookmarks in them, waiting to be “finished” again. Thankfully, she had completed the editing for Sattar Memon’s “The Ashram” and sent it for printing earlier in the day. Tonight’s book club discussion was on “The Untouchables” by Narendra Jadhav. It was going to be an emotional one for sure. When she returned home, she’d have the kheer she made the night before as a snack.

Now it was time to get ready for the meeting, or so she thought. Seema called to tell her that it was cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. Actually, Priya was kind of relieved as she was so tired and just wanted to relax and watch one of her many Bollywood films. Would it be one of Shah Rukh Khan’s, as she had all but one of his (besides the one that hadn’t been released yet of course) or maybe one of Amitabh Bachchan’s (‘Black’ or ‘Baghban’)? There would be time to decide later, right now she wanted to take a shower and change into a more comfortable salwar kameez.

All the rooms were soon filled with the soft sounds of classical music and the smell of sandalwood and chamomile, from the incense and the bath products she used in the palm tree decorated bathroom. In the living room the peacock feathers standing in the flowered, brass vase next to the elephant decorated incense box, swayed in the breeze. Looking at them, Priya noticed that the battery in the clock/candle holder combination had stopped working. She replace it and dusted off the matching picture holder, which held her only autographed photo of Shah Rukh that he had sent her two years before. “Might as well dust off the rest of the bookshelf (the top of which was filled with candles and other trinkets)”, she said to no one other than herself.

A soft rain started to fall straight down, so there was no need to shut the windows yet. Instead, Priya opened one of them and put her head out, enough to let the warm rain hit her face. She closed her eyes and imagined that she was in an open field in India dancing around the trees with her “Raj”, a Indian man she only knew in her imagination and wrote about in her journal.

As the rain started becoming heavier, the windows needed to be closed, especially the one right near her bed, as she didn’t want to get the red and beige bedspread with a camel and elephant border around the edges to get soaked. Moving the white mosquito net, which was over the bed out of the way and accidentally knocking the stuffed tiger cub and the teddy bear dressed in an orange sari off the gold pillows they were propped up on, Priya shut it down to an inch so the breeze still came in.

Hurrying to get out in the living room before the floor became wet, she tripped on the white ceramic elephant which served as a small nightstand and into the piano bench, which was covered with a throw blanket (in the same rich colors as the bedspread) and two square red and gold cushions. The pain in her leg throbbed as she hobbled out of the room. She hobbled back in after all the windows were closed and fell on the bed. While she sat there rubbing her foot, she looked around the room at the several pieces of artwork hanging on the walls.

There was the one of the Indian women sitting with the children while they worked on their crafts. That one hade been hand painted on cloth especially for her by a struggling artist in India that she contacted through a mutual friend. The black frame that she had it in didn’t do it justice though. She’d change it when she got a chance. On the opposite wall was the one she’d bought at IKEA. It was a framed poster showing a collage of brilliantly colored bags of dye that often appeared in pictures of India. The last one was a picture of four tiger cubs. The fourth wall wasn’t actually a wall. The landlord had made a doorway between the kitchen and this room so it could be used as a dining room with easy access back and forth. To avoid looking at the kitchen through her bedroom and visa versa, she bought a cotton shower curtain and hung it up to block the opening. It too had the reds and tans along with a palm tree, elephant and diamond shape motif.

Her foot was feeling better now and the rain had stopped. Priya decided she’d take her journal and Bollywood soundtracks outside and get lost in another world.



Indian Words

Naan - leavened flat bread
Pakoras - spicy vegetable fritters - yummy!
Lassi - yogurt drink (sweet, salty or mango flavored)
Salwar Kameez - long dress and pant outfit
Kheer - rice pudding typically made by boiling rice with milk and sugar. It is often flavored with cardamom and pistachios.


Ok now I'll hand the baton to Simon and ask him to forgive me for giving him this post to work with - after all he creates comic books about Hal the Space Jock. But I'm sure he'll manage somehow though. Hope so anyway.

See these items and more - at My Indian Treasures

17 comments:

  1. Oh, my mouth's watering just reading about all that lovely indian food.

    A lovely insight into your "stuff" Simran - thanks for sharing. :)

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  2. aww thanks Cath. Yeah mine was too. Must go make some Indian food now. Shall I send you some? :-)

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  3. I'm hungry now! Great post :)

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  4. You too Kristine? I think I'm going to have to start putting recipes for Indian food here. :-)

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  5. You're place sounds wonderful, I'd love to see some pictures.. But I feel as if I already have. ;)

    And yes, it's been too long since I've had GOOD Indian food. Years, in fact. And the spicier the better.

    Hrm...

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  6. That was SOOOO cool! What a creative way to give us all a taste of India!

    Well done, Simi

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  7. Your spaces comes across as warm and inviting, but I kept wanting to stay at the window :)

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  8. Colours and flavours and scents: yum.

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  9. Very exotic. Have you ever lived in India? Do you plan too?

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  10. Truly beautiful, Simran. This reads like poetry written in prose. Your love for India always makes me emotional. Thanks for this wonderful glimpse into your Indian collections.

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  11. Loved this little visit to your world. Thanks!

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  12. Oh, I think posting recipes here is an excellent idea. :D Right now, I'm tired of Sri Lankan curries - I am North American, after all, and didn't grow up on them - so I'm cooking some kind of Italian something or other today. :)

    Shalwaar kameez are so comfortable, and yet can be so dressy. My collection, which started at none less than a year ago, is now close to a dozen, with fabric to make a few more...

    Great post! :)

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  13. For some reason, the combination candle holder and clock really jumped out at me. You wouldn't happen to have any pictures of it, would you?

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  14. Thanks everyone. I'm glad you all enjoyed it.

    Nope Brian, I've never lived in India. I am planning to go and visit though. Can't wait!

    Bhaswati, I'm glad my posts can touch you in such an emotional way. Thank you.

    I'll post some recipes for you Laurie and for anyone else who'd like them; starting with the items I mentioned.

    I'll try and get a picture of the clock/candle stand up for you this week Matt.

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  15. Thanks so much Kelly. Glad you really liked it.

    You can stay by the window BK. I'll bring the food over to you.

    Shall I make some food for you to Gillian?

    Glad you enjoyed the trip Wendy.

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  16. This is the coolest post ever. Though I'm never going to read your blog again while I'm hungry.

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  17. Thank you Matt! If I had know you hadn't eaten yet, I would have warned you. Sorry. :-)

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