Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Puliyodharai (Tamarind rice)

First time in a school trip. No, it is not my school trip. Chithi’s. She works as a teacher in a different school. I study in the best school, my Chithi says. She even had to fight with her bosses to enrol me in my school, and not enrolling in her school. I have never been on a school trip or school cinema or anything outside my school. Once my father caught me in shop, buying coffee. I volunteered to buy coffee for my teacher. He came with me and talked to my teacher that I should not be sent out ever again. He said that my studies are very very important.

This is the first time in a school trip. We are in Vaigai dam. It is one of the popular picnic spots, I have heard. Today we have been to the park and the dam. Tonight we are sleeping here. We are leaving tomorrow. It is very nice and strange to feel this night time outside my home. I have never been out like this. Never at this dark night time. Never seen this open sky with stars, well, I have seen from my vaasal and when we are all playing outside our houses, but this looks very new and different. I am so excited.

We all go inside the hall. We are going to eat our food. Mother has given us Puliyodharai (Tamarind rice), my favourite. I get to eat puliyodharai only when we go out on tours. Last time I had puliyodharai was when we went to Madurai. I can’t wait to eat puliyodharai. Chithi is holding my hands. All day she has been holding my hands. All the other students walked in lines, and I walked on the side along with my Chithi, holding her hand. She is teacher and I am the teacher’s kid, you know. Students talked with students and Chithi talked with teachers. There was no another teacher’s kid for me. Never mind, coming to school trip itself is good enough for me, I don’t have complaints. I got to see the open sky, dark and twinkling, so big, so breezy, didn’t I? I don’t have complaints. I can’t wait to open the puliyodharai parcel. Father packed it in banana leaves. I just love it. I can’t wait to eat my puliyodharai, my favourite.

Why are you eating like this? Look they are all waiting for us. It is because you are too slow. EAT.
Why are you eating like this? They are going to think we have left you starving for months.
Why are you eating like this? Have you not seen food before?
Why are you eating like this, spilling all over the place?
Why are you picking the spillage, you dirty stupid? It is dirty there. You are shaming me in front of others.
Sit right and straight. Is this the way you sit in front of food and in front of others?
Do you sit like this without respect? Bend towards food and eat.
What are you looking at? Do you need my permission to eat? You are a great actress. “You, know she generally doesn’t respect elders and give reply word for word, now she is acting as if she needs my permission to eat EAT”.

44 comments:

radhika said...

mmmmm, i *love* puliyodharai too!! another reason for those long-distance train journeys! ;-)

Michelle said...

Good story, prema. I enjoyed this one. Now I want to know how you make puliyodharai. :)

In our family travel/train food was bread, boiled eggs and "frigadells". I have no idea how to spell that last one! They were spicey meatballs served cold. Eaten at home they were boring, but eaten in a train or on the back seat of a car.. WONDERFUL! :D

WA said...

Hmmmm, I wish someone would make me packed lunches of puliyodharia, lemon rice, coconut rice or thayir saadham now :( I am hungry now. Mummy :((

Premalatha said...

Hi Michelle, I will post the recipi in our group;)

Hi WA,

:) (sorry. I made you hungry.)

neha vish said...

There is such heartbreaking bitter-sweetness to this story.. It doesn't remind me as much of Puliyodarai as it does of the various family functions where behaviour codes were expected.. Hhmm...

Premalatha said...

Hi Neha,

Bitter-sweetness is the theme of this blog. that sweet coated bitter life I had. so much sweetness that it just doesn't let me to let it go, and so much bitterness, it doesn't let me go.

:)

Thanks for getting it right. (I haven't yet. lol.)

lata said...

...too bad...they did'nt have those "Don't bother me...I'm eating!" commercial those days. Your Chitti could've learned a thing or two from that :)

Pulisaadhamma!! naakle venniru varudhey!!

icarus prakash said...

good one..

it reminds me of the protocols laid by my paati in those days..
'don't use both hands' is one of them..i only wish she was alive to see my hand-to-mouth wars:) at chinese restaurants these days and give an instant slap on my ear, as she used to. NO.

Premalatha said...

"Don't bother me...I'm eating!"

enakkee theriyaathe? what is that?

My father was the worst. He devised so many rules for so many things. He was the one known for that. He tortured me "how to walk in boots" lesson when I joined Engg college, and I had to wear boots. There are several, several and several stories about how he tortured me.


Pulisaadham (pulichchoru, in my bashai:)), enakku eppavum nakkila vennira varavalaikkum.


(nalaikku athuthaan. yeah!!)

Premalatha said...

Hi icarus prakash,

thanks for dropping by.

:)

Lata said...

"Don't bother me...I'm eating!"... is/was a fast-food chain commercial (Macdonald's big mac sandwitch...I think?) which was shown on tv. In that commercial they show a young women eating a humoungous sandwitch with tomato sauce dripping all over...but does'nt care much about it...and the slogan "Don't bother me...I'm eating!"...appears at the bottom of the screen.

Premalatha said...

Hi Lata,

thanks. I have not seen that. It is 7 years since I have left India!!! (feeling too old again:()

Lata said...

That commercial was shown here in California...as recent as 6mnths ago.

Btw, do you make your puliyodarai from scratch or readymadu dhaana?

Premalatha said...

That commercial was shown here in California...as recent as 6mnths ago

:) thanks.

Btw, do you make your puliyodarai from scratch or readymadu dhaana?

from scratch!!
except that I have started using puli paste instead of soaking puli and taking the juice out etc..

wanna recipi? myself and michelle are in a recipi group. quite a good number of people from different parts of the world. I learnt how rasam got modified into "Milagutwanny" and one of our group member even posted a recipi!! he refused to take my rasam recipi as he so much loves what comes out of his formula!! lol. wanna join? send me an email with your email id you would like to use it in the yahoo-group. it is generally non-active. suddenly someone comes and posts some recipi. I am going to post this pulisadham, as michelle has asked. I can send you separately as well. it is actually not a big deal. very simple. :)

Premalatha said...

Hi Icarus Prakash,

Chineese restaraunt-la why using hands? what happens to the stick(s)?

(I haven't dared to try sticks yet :))

Michelle said...

Oh yes. Every family has it's "rules." My mother and father still fight over those because what was rude in his family wasn't rude in my other's family.

In my father's grandmother's house you had to take one mouthful of food, put your hands in your lap and chew. Only when that was chewed and swallowed could you move and take more food off your plate. Meals were V-E-R-Y
S-L-O-W.

In my mother's family meals were stressful as my grandfather got angry at everything. My mother would eat very very fast so she could escape.

When they married I ended up with one parent who is too fast and one that is too slow. Plus both my parents didn't like the way I chewed. I (according to them both) chew too loud. I spent all my childhood trying to figure out how anyone chews quietly.

When I met my husband we were eating potato crisps one day. I apologised for being a noisy chewer. He said "What noise?" I think that was the moment I knew he was the right man. I can chew in front of him forever and NEVER have to apologise. :)

Premalatha said...

He said "What noise?" I think that was the moment I knew he was the right man.

crying out of laughter.

I have been torturing Balan on his eating manners for sometime. When I realised that I have fallen prey to that cycle, you know, "abused becomes the abuser", I was shocked. I still stare at him (can't help:(), when he eats. He doesn't give a damn about my eating-manners-complaints. he is a happy eater:-)

டி ராஜ்/ DRaj said...

Incidentally, my first school trip was to Vaigai Dam too. :) Looks like most schools around that region took their students to Vaigai Dam.

One quick question: I often wonder what is the emotion (of yours)behind the posts. I hope it is just recollection and narration and no hatred towards the people concerned. I am extrememly sorry if this question had crossed the "Laxman Rekha". But I had always wanted to ask this question.

Premalatha said...

Hi Draj,

Don't worry about the laxman rekha. I do not have one with my family. It is hatredness I want to show. It is the love-hate relationship that develops inside a child. I did adjust with them. I did obey them. I did live within their rules and words and their emotional blackmails. Hatredness developed the moment I decided to do it for them. I want people to relaise this. I want people to realise that it is not worth risking. making your child to follow what you think is right, most of them are selfishness-bound-"right"s, might lead the child to hate you. you can claim "family importance", "respect elders", you have to take care of us, as we got you educated etc.. if they are within limits. when it crosses the line of torturing her and expecting her to be your slave for ever, expecting her to lead a less than lower life, while you want to enjoy the life on the top, it is hatredness you are getting as a byeproduct.

You are absolutely right. my hatredness overrides my love for them.

neha vish said...

By some bizarre arrangement of stars and DNA we're born into our respective families - And our families have so much of an impact on us.

I was the eldest grand daughter on my Mother's side. While the first five years of my life - I was a complete Rani - once the other little cousins started popping out of their respective wombs - Things were hard. I believed that the sole reason for my existence was to

1. Set an example. (I had no idea what this damn phrase meant.)
2. Make sure the tiny ones ate. (Horrible dribblers of food and hair pulling stunts)
3. Be ladylike

Needless to say - the last one was a complete disaster. :D And all of this was restricted to summer vacations. I don't know why children are given the responsibility of being ambassadors for their families and their family's unfailing upbringing. Damn.. This is such a Malgudi moment!

Premalatha said...

Hi Neha,

First five years, me too was a rani. atleast I beleive so. then senthil was born. then I was sent to "study". so I was told I should set an example. there are so many cousins I have. I have set a bad example now. (why one should not to send a gir to study!!!)

For you it was just the vacation time. for me, there was no escape, as I lived there :(

This is such a Malgudi moment!


lol. I love this comment. :)

Premalatha said...

Hi Draj,

Where are you from? I studied in theni, Saraswathi Nadar Girls School(+2). :) where did your sister (Shanthi?) study?

Dubukku said...

nice one. Puliyotharai, vaigai dam

I can relate them all..

generally if you are a relative of a teacher then you get a royal treatment among the students dont you? I always have wished my mom was a teacher during primary school days :)

Michelle said...

Hi Neha and prema

I was the only girl cousin and the daughter of the eldest daughter. So that meant two generations of:

1. Set an example.
2. Be ladylike.

You want to make me scream? Tell me to be ladylike!!!

My father grew up with a wonderful mad father who didn't care about rules at all. So I got balance from him.
But my mother's family it was all rules. And with a Catholic/Irish "flavour". That means "family feuds". We had more family fights than TV soap operas! There never was a time when everyone in the family was talking to everyone.

When my mother was doing our family tree she found letters from 1800s. What did they say? "I have not spoken to So far we have traced over two hundred years of my grandmother's family fighting with each other.

Some things never change unless you create change. My mother and I have chosen to be the ones who change the way our family thinks. It is hard, it is painful, but we think it is worth it.

Premalatha said...

Hi Dubukks,

The other bank is always green. :)

I wanted to be the normal kid who was let to play. did you not notice, she was holding my hands ALL day.

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

This post came to my mind as I read the following poem by Spike Milligan

Sit up straight
Said Mum to Mabel.
Keep your elbows
Off the table.
Do not eat peas off a fork.
Your mouth is full -
Don't try and talk.
Keep your mouth shut
When you eat.
Keep still or you'll
Fall off your seat.
If you want more ,
You will say 'please'.
Don't fiddle with
That piece of cheese!
If then we kids
Cause such a fuss
Why do you go on
Having us?

Premalatha said...

Hi Shoefiend,

lol.

Thanks for dropping by. Do come back when you have time.

:)

மதி கந்தசாமி (Mathy) said...

Premalatha,

HI!

would you mind dropping me a line at

mathygrps at gmail dot com?

romba nandri.

-Mathy

GratisGab said...

I think you were really low-maintenance. Salivating over puliyodharai? Your parents were the luckiest!!! The kinda demands I had for school-trip lunches...! Parents should talk with other parents, then we'll all seem to good to be true :)

Premalatha said...

I think you were really low-maintenance.

Cheers mate:-)


Salivating over puliyodharai? Your parents were the luckiest!!! The kinda demands I had for school-trip lunches...!

no lunch box were allowed for me. i used to walk back home, good 20 min walk, eat and go back to school, another good 20 min walk.


And, this (the one narrated in this post) was my first and LAST school trip!!!



Thanks for dropping by.
:-)

டி ராஜ்/ DRaj said...

Hi Premalatha:
I can exactly understand what you are talking about as my sister used to complain similarly. There was nothing I could do, but to listen to her telling me non stop how she was treated indifferently.

BTW, My native is Usilampatti. My maternal grandparents are in Theni, so I used to go to theni for every vacation. Incidentally, I studied in Nadar Saraswati Boys Higher Secondary School (+1 and +2) way back in 1987-89. I have also studied all over Tamilnadu (Madurai, Usilampatti, Virudhunagar, Trichy). My sis (Nalini) studied Usilampatti till her +2 and moved to Lady Doak for her bachelors. :)

டி ராஜ்/ DRaj said...

After thinking more into it (slowly too :-( ), all I can say is that the generation clearly lacked knowledge in child psycology. Hopefully, the parents in this age would not do the same.

Premalatha said...

Hi Draj,

I can exactly understand what you are talking about as my sister used to complain similarly. There was nothing I could do, but to listen to her telling me non stop how she was treated indifferently.

Your sister was lucky. my brother still doesn't understand. he simply complains that the problem is with me. :( Actually I am trying to keep it general. I do not want to touch the girl/boy difference yet, as I want both the gender group to relate themselves with my stories.. :-)

After thinking more into it (slowly too :-( ), all I can say is that the generation clearly lacked knowledge in child psycology. Hopefully, the parents in this age would not do the same

no. Draj. people are still doing it. slightly differently may be, but they are doing almost the same.
I can't beleive when they are smacking!! educated, working in froeign countries... !! you wanna see culture/identity freaks? visit nilarajan.blogspot.com it is just beyond my league.


BTW, My native is Usilampatti. My maternal grandparents are in Theni, so I used to go to theni for every vacation.

Usilampatti is hardly different from Theni. n:-)

Incidentally, I studied in Nadar Saraswati Boys Higher Secondary School (+1 and +2) way back in 1987-89.

I was there dyuring 84 to 86 :-)


I moved to Coimbatore after that!!

டி ராஜ்/ DRaj said...

Hi Premalatha:
//Your sister was lucky.// How much I wish she told that :)

The sight of a weeping kid and an agitated parent trying to discipline the kid in the eyes of strangers in a public place is simply disturbing. But I knew what the response would be if I were to interfere.

Actually, I had a few classmates from Kombai. I am trying to recollect their names and try to see if it rings a bell to you.. After all the world is small you see..hehehe


BTW, the link you had given doesnt seem to work :(

Premalatha said...

Hi Draj,

You are two years junior to me, your classmates if they were from my school, they must have been my juniors. I don't think I interacted with any of my juniors. I don't remember my classmates even. I don't think I will know any of them. But, yes surely they might know me: 1) Premalatha is a unique name. in our school history i think there were only two premalathas so far. myself and one girl who came from elsewhere just to study the 10th standard, to take the "only one premalatha" thing away from me!!! :)

sudha said...

hmm ...nice post and nice set of comments .. me was a rebel and my sister is the "goody-goody" person (so imagine , always "look at your sister") ..i was the victim of the "1st rank syndrome". i hated my parents for it, my family for their feuds, so what if I had all the priviledges ? I had to run to friends for mental peace. And now, I am supposed to marry a complete stranger and have children apparently for my own good coz hes rich and well-settled :)). Talk about slavery for life -- slave masters are better , they acknowledge the slavery thing. But parents they so believe they are doing the right thing for you when they are actually being a slave to pressures from the society. And hey, its true that I am a victim of "was abused , so will abuse" thing too -- my father can never compliment me, only criticize (apparenly, he wanted to help me become perfect).
Neither can I sometimes, people whom I really care and love, its so difficult for me to tell them so , I can only show it by actions.
Now, I dont hate my parents these days, I understand they are just incapable of it because of the way they were raised. But it does become frustrating when my independence/freedom becomes victimized.


again :: ur writing skills - i liked the mention of the night feel , i can visualize it better because of the details .. good job !!

Premalatha said...

Hi Sudha,

Though I was the eldest, and did study well, i was always told that i was inferior to my brother and i was told "look at your brother".. but, when it comes to "you are elder, you have to ignore...".. and there was more, "he is a boy, you are after all a girl".. "he is fair skinned and looks like me (mother) and you are dark and ugly, like your father (actually myself and my brother look similar, ask S, she has seen us both)"....
I was a victim few more things as well. I hate them. When there are few uneducated not-very-well-exposed families, could still capable of loving their children, my parent chose to torture me in every possible way.
But, I am playingg it very low (showing things that are common in many houses, only) so that everyone can relate to it.

Thanks for the comment about my writing skills. :-)

Premalatha said...

The slavery thing in my life is that "I got you educated, be my slave and live a less than lower life, while I will be the rani of this world", by my chithi. I hate her. In fact she didn't do anything for me according to me. Inot supposed to talk like this, because... you know..

Premalatha said...

Hi Draj, I meant Premalatha was a un-common name (not unique), during my days:-)

I was also the "popular girl" in my batch:-)
(in college as well :-) )

டி ராஜ்/ DRaj said...

Hi Premalatha:
Aint it nice to be popular in schools and college? :) Well, I wasnt one and always wished to be one.

As you have rightly mentioned I can certainly identify myself/ someone whom I knew to all your narrations. Keep the good work up...
Cheers
DRaj

MumbaiGirl said...

Your post brought tears to my eyes. Love puliyodharai too!

phantom363 said...

.... I do not have one with my family. ... I did adjust with them. I did obey them. I did live within their rules and words and their emotional blackmails. Hatredness developed the moment I decided to do it for them. ..., most of them are selfishness-bound-"right"s, might lead the child to hate you. you can claim "family importance", "respect elders", you have to take care of us, as we got you educated etc.. if they are within limits. ...

hi prema,

this above is my life. i am a 56 year old male,and have still not got over the wounds. i grew up in madras in the 50s & 60s.

in order not to do the same to my kids, i like to imagine that i treat them as gifts. i am knowingly careful with them, with the hope, that at the end of it all, when they judge me, i will get a passing grade.


both my parents are gone.

when i was a child, my mother's father used to tease me a lot. one day i lost, and yelled at him. the punishment i got from my dad was leather belting. the belt broke with the beating, so great was his anger, at me 'shaming' him. i still shake when i remember these things. :(

in later years,mom stayed with me. one day she was teasing my older son, who told her to stuff it. immediately my mom complained to me about my son's rudeness. my reply to her was, 'you will get love and respect, only if you give them the same commodity. if you tease him, he is right to protect himself'.

so many stories like that. :(

phantom363 said...

ooops.. i forgot to state what i started. i got sidetracked by the msgs between raj & prema..

today is se0 10 sunday lunchtime. had some leftover rice. quickly fried some dry MTR puliyodharai mix and made a yummy lunch for me and my daughter. the son complained about the strong smell in the house, and when i was down to my last few morsels, he wanted some. too bad,he was too late. :)

i have tried MTR, 777 & Grand Sweets mixes. MTR comes out tops. Haven't tried to make from scratch. the wife is not a puliyodharai person. :(

The Visitor said...

I guess I was fortunate in my childhood - I was the only child, I studied in boarding school from an early age and I was the "role model" for my cousins. I used to be called Ayudha supplier, by my cousins, because I had to fetch the eekku-maar kuchi when my cousins had to be disciplined. I was not a rebel, I used to conform. Despite all this I share a very close bond with my cousins. During holidays we visit our mama's village. At the end of the holidays we'll have a good collection of tips from the mamas. Even today it is a pleasure for me to visit my cousins, chithi and mamas. I still come back with a good collection! A surprising thing, which I've noticed, is that the bonding on the maternal side seems to be higher than with the paternal side.
Coming back to the theme - my father (being the middle one) had been unhappy about how he was treated. However my mother seems to have been treated like a Rani, by everyone, including her step-mother, brothers and sisters. Even today she enjoys that relationship with my mamas and chithi.