Monday, January 06, 2014

Keep cool (and eat pani puri)

Last week, something very unusual happened in Singapore.

It got cold.

Seriously.

At night we had the fan speed at 1, and had a quilt on instead of the usual thin blanket. It had rained and rained and rained as it does during December and January, but never before in Singapore had I felt this cold. Or this excited. It seemed like - and not in the ominous Game of Thrones kind of way - winter was coming.

Well, of course it wasn't. The next day, the sun was up and shining merrily and then it rained again and then it was sunny again, and so on. Oh well.

Singapore may be my favourite country in the world to live in, but there are certain things about India that I do miss very much. The top three being family, winter and my all time favourite food in the whole wide world - roadside pani puri. And it just struck me that I do still get to enjoy the first two - when the family visits, or when I travel to a cold country (or when the Singapore weather goes bonkers like it did last week). But the last one... sigh... I highly doubt that roadside pani puri can or will ever be what it is, outside of India.

One of my favourite pani puri moments was back when I was a kid and my cousin (and arch nemesis in those days) challenged me to eat 50 pani puris. After a rather full lunch. It was just too easy. As he reluctantly handed me the 10-rupee note for the lost bet, I had a smashing punchline for him, "Pani puri ke liye jagah pet mein nahin, dil mein chahiye." (It doesn't translate well, but here it is anyway: You don't need space in your stomach for pani puri, you need space in your heart.) Honestly, I used to eat so much pani puri that my mom used to joke that I have pani puri ka pani in my veins instead of blood. At my wedding, I wanted the main course to be pani puri. It did feature in the menu, but most tragically my wedding sari weighed me down during the race to the stall and it all disappeared before I got there.

Sometimes I wonder when Xena's health will stabilise and I will take her to India and let her try pani puri.

Some day, we surely will. During winter.

And we will huddle by the roadside and have a pani puri eating competition. 



27 comments:

Kirti said...

hey Sayesha, I saw you yesterday at Bt Batok nature park. I wanted to approach to say hello to you and Xena :-).

Sri said...

Ohhh...you are a pro at cooking..so pani puri should be easy na! I guess you can get the puris at Singapore?

Can't beat the fun of road side stalls, though!

Arun said...

Temperature today, high is +14C and low is -14C, in my town in New Jersey - thankfully I'm away. I'm sure they'd gladly exchange with Singapore :)

What additional toppings do you like in your pani puri? and does Xena tolerate spicy stuff?

PeeV ee said...

This is your first ever post that I'm reading and I'm smiling away :)

Waise, I love pani puri as much as you do. Well, almost.

Sayesha said...

Kirti,
Oh were you near the playground?? Why didn't you come and say hi?? :)

Sri,
No homemade pani puris can ever match the sadak chhaap ones! :(

Arun,
When are you visiting?? :)
I don't like green or sweet chutney in my pani puris. Just the basic combo with spicy tamarind water. :P ~ ~ ~
I can't tell yet if she likes spicy stuff because she doesn't like ANY stuff. :( Hopefully she will, because both Viv and I love spicy food. :)

PeeV ee,
Welcome to my blog, and thank you for commenting. :)

V said...

Hello to a fellow pani puri lover! I hate the roadside concoction they make with hot/warm ragda - it isn't pani puri until it is served cold with proper moong, potato and chana. What say?

V

Varsha said...

Wanted to ask you whether you would visit India/Bangalore any time soon. I am not sure about the extent of Xena's condition, but atleast in Bangalore we have really among the best Neonatal care, and doctors. As I had told you, Vihaan was in NICU for 2.5months with the costs coming upwards of Rs 3lakhs for the stay. See if you can make it even if it is for a short visit.

Sayesha said...

V,
Oh yes, the ragda version sucks. I always feel very cheated when I end up eating that. :/

Varsha,
I'm actually very happy with the docs here. So it's not medical care that I want to go to India for. I just want to go there for the pani puri. :P

Varsha said...

Just wanted to know, that why not India? When you have traveled all the way to Australia twice, and nearer home Thailand. What is keeping you from traveling to India? Even if it for the pani puri.

Sayesha said...

Varsha,
There are several factors hindering the India travel plans. :( My parents and in-laws live far away from each other, and they don't even have a direct flight between them. I don't want to put Xena through so much travel within a short period. And if we don't go see both sets of her grandparents, there is no point going. :) I'm also scared of the traffic jams in India. Should she need urgent medical attention which she regularly does, the last thing I'd want is to be stuck in a jam on the way to the hospital. Guess the pani puri will have to wait. :)

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Nobody said...

Bhai,
You should arrange for Xena to have the sadak-chaap pani puri soon.
Just one tasty,tangy pani puri will be enough to get her hooked on to food, and you'll forget all your worries about her not eating anything ;)

Pani puri is the ilaaj for all samasyaas :P

:D

Arun said...

It occurs to me that Xena is now close to sophisticated enough to directly relate why she does not like food; what about eating bothers her.

Sayesha said...

Nobody,
//Pani puri is the ilaaj for all samasyaas

Wah wah! I can't agree more! You should copyright this line! :D

Arun,
We do ask her. She just says, "Nahin khana hai" or "Nahin chahiye" or even "Not nice" (even without trying the food!!!)

Arun said...

"Why not nice?" - yes, hard for a kid of her age to answer, but I have a lot of faith in her intelligence.

Arun said...

If you will excuse my taking the space, I was four when my parents moved us from the US to India. I was a normal eater of bland US stuff, round and roly-poly; the move to India made me a very picky eater. I was skeletal most of my young years.

Take milk for example - I was used to the cold, homogenized, odorless American product. The Indian version available at that time, was almost straight from the cow - cream at the top, with a smell, served hot or warm, with sugar.

It is not rational, but I couldn't stomach the milk. I had to suppress gag and nausea, as I remember it. (Today I'd kill for fresh milk from the cow.) I could tell adults how I felt, not that most of them had any sympathy. After all, what I felt was not rational. It is a memory from age 4, whatever that is worth - what I can say today is that it was some kind of sensory overload.

My picky eating had no rationale, but persisted, much to my mother's distress (and btw, she is a fabulous cook). It ended only at the IIT hostel mess where the choices were starve or eat the truly horrible food (it was less horrible on weekends and on hostel day it was positively scrumptious. As the mess manager told me, if we made good food daily, the mess bill would be high and people complain about that.)

I was four; I was not solving 12 piece puzzles or figuring out how to descend trees at age 2.5 like Xena is; she is infinitely smarter than I was at the same age. So I'm thinking she might just be able to give a clue as to what she feels when she eats something. Not that knowing that will necessarily help.

Sayesha said...

Arun,
Thanks for taking the time to share your story and for taking an interest in digging deeper into her food issues. What the doctors feel is that she probably has a strong gag reflex (possibly from the first two months of tube-feeding) which makes her very closed towards food. That's why she is unable to express why she thinks everything is "not nice". That's the best she can put it, I suppose.

She's on an anti-reflux medicine at the moment, so hopefully things will get better. :)

Or I can start making truly horrible food like your mess. :P

PS: I TOTALLY cannot stand fresh cow's milk. YUCK. I drank it for a while when I was a kid but thankfully my parents moved to packeted milk. :P

Arun said...

How does she do on thoroughly pureed solid food?

Sayesha said...

Arun,
Until recently, I used to puree everything because that's the only way she'd swallow anything (not without a distraction such as a book or toy). She'd still gag and throw up quite a bit. Since she's a little tolerant of texture now, we have stopped giving her pureed food. Her therapists also want her to start chewing more to develop her jaw muscles. She can take overcooked porridge and pasta now, but the quantities she eats are quite sad. It's still a step forward though, so I'm happy. :)

Arun said...

Bhai, thanks for answering my nosy questions.

One more favor please, give the li'l girl a beeg hug. :)

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Arun said...

Was thinking of foods good for chewing and it occurred to me that sugarcane (ganna) is good for chewing with nothing gaggable to swallow!

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