So I spent the whole of last month (without mummy and co., yes) in Chennai at my grandmother’s place, ostensibly helping her out with..stuff. This was not a very difficult choice to make, since my grandmother’s cooking is absolutely phenomenal, and I like Madras a lot; it has the virtue of not being Bombay (grass on the other side..).
My grandmother lives in Triplicane (because the British couldn’t get their tongue around Tiruvallikeni), a crowded and temple-filled locality near the beach. The trouble with this particular area is cows. Cows abound in Triplicane. As my grandmother’s neighbour proudly proclaimed, apparently, at one point there were more cows than people in Triplicane (which is admittedly a considerable feat). Black cows, brown cows, grey cows, mixed-colour cows, cows with coloured horns, cows with calves, cows looking for calves, cows tied to a tree, cows, cows, everywhere. I like cows, especially when they are tied to a tree or something. They look quite harmless, and it was rather pleasant seeing something other than stray dogs for once, until a cow ripped through my plastic bag of vegetables with its horns and chewed up all the spinach (this was the first time I went vegetable shopping alone; usually nobody trusts me enough to buy their raw material).
Anyway, I really like life in Chennai; it’s loads of fun, especially when your teenage brother is in Bombay. There’s The Hindu, for a start, it has delightful local news supplements with the main sheet everyday, with all sorts of classy Kollywood gossip. Then there’s coffee. Everyone here drinks coffee all the time (in Bombay it’s tea, except for the Madras export mamas and mamis); every house I went to, I was offered coffee, it’s almost like water. And shame on you if you drink nescafe and bru and shoe and all that nonsense (Jammu mami judges you), only filter coffee with proper decoction and all will do. My grandmother was rather horrified when she found out I couldn’t make filter coffee (we don’t drink coffee at home in Bombay). “I can make Nescafe or something though”, I said brightly. This, as it turned out, was quite the wrong thing to say. Within minutes, Bommi mami from Ireland called up to ask me if I was planning to get married without learning to make proper coffee first, and if so, advised me on how to handle divorce, while Chinnu mama from San Francisco was on the other line, wondering if this was how all these Bombay girls behaved, drinking tea and saying silly things to their grandmothers. Anyway, I have learnt to make proper coffee and tea now, so I can marry without fear.
Life in my grandmother’s house mostly revolves around cooking and Tamil serials. At lunch, we discuss what to have for dinner, and during dinner, we discuss what to cook the next day, while watching TV. My grandmother’s cooking is fabulous (I cannot repeat this enough); at 83, she made rasam and sambhar rice everyday for a month, and there wasn’t a single day I didn’t eat everything twice. Ah, to be blessed with such talent. The result of all this lovely cooking and lack of exercise (apparently going to buy chocolate and getting stared at by local cows is not an acceptable form of exercise) was that when my mother set eyes on me after a month, she blinked, put on her glasses, screamed loudly, called my father, and asked him if he could also see two daughters, whereupon he sniggered rather horribly and asked me how my fellow cows in Triplicane were faring.
Anyway, it’s been months since I wrote something and I can feel myself starting to get a bit rusty. I have been reading loads of books in the interim, so hopefully many reviews coming up.
P.S. Just out of curiosity, did anyone miss me?