Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hide and Seek

The big wooden almirah was the favourite hiding place for James when he played hide-n-seek with his brothers and cousins. It was one great place to hide….Mundane and non-descript at a corner in the big bedroom at the old house tucked amidst the thick foliage of tree at his native in Neliampathy. He would climb inside the biggest cabinet and lock himself up…. waiting until he could hear someone unlucky getting caught in the game…Once he closed himself in the almirah, the silence and darkness inside would heighten the thrill of the game. There was a small crevice inside the almirah through which he could see what’s happening outside…The power to see when others could not see you…he really relished that…But otherwise the brief moments inside the almirah was to crawl on top of the neatly ironed sarees inhaling the scent of cuticura talc which seems to linger always in that part of the room…A deeper sniff he could even smell the perfume which seems not to have worn off from the heap of clothes inside …

“mone.…James ee …go and take bath”

He could hear mom shouting from the kitchen…damn it….now of all the time, he sighed.…

He crouched silently inside the Almirah ignoring the warning from Amma….

It seems that Anto had finished counting and was already searching for them… Freddie would definitely be hiding behind the door in Ammachi’s room…and would easily be caught soon….He smiled satisfied with his own better calculations in choosing a much safer spot to hide…After all his cleverness and astuteness were known in the family….Thomas might be hiding under the bed in Appachen’s room….And as always his younger brother Philip would be in the same room as himself behind the huge suitcase….But no one was safe and secure as James himself…

It had been more than two minutes and seems like everyone was still safe in their places so far…

James relaxed a bit and started exploring the almirah….He could feel Appa’s watch and wallet somewhere….He could feel a bunch of keys hidden somewhere under the sari’s….But he kept them back soon for fear of creating any noise which might attract Deepu into the room…Through the little crack he could even see Philip cowering almost as if he was trying to hold his breath like Jerry hiding from Tom….he chuckled thinking about it..

Appa was sitting in the hall watching television with a friend of his… They were drinking something called whisky and talking loud….Appa sometimes become very happy after drinking or sometimes very angry….James wondered what kind of a juice was that anyways…..

What was that sound!!

James could see Deepu walking step at a time…James held his breath…though each step he took inside the room did not make even a whimper of a sound, James felt each a thunder….Deepu was looking under the bed and was checking the bathroom as well….James could see Philip but now crouched, like he was doing number two…And then Philip started walking towards James …

Eeshoyeee…he will open it now!!!

That’s when Amma came into the room and scolded Deepu for making a mess outside in the garden earlier in the day….Deepu went out of the room in a hurry and James could finally breathe…

Now Appa was shouting at Amma…..He began chuckling watching Amma getting scolded for him not taking the bath….

Amma was in a hurry as James could see her hurrying to the kitchen after cleaning up the bed…On the way Amma shouted again…

“James ee…Go and take bath…I ll get angry at you”

But then there was someone who was angry at her too….Appa was furious that beef fry was still not ready…And James heard Amma running from the kitchen to serve him the goddamn beef….He could smell it from here…and James was getting hungry….

Now Appa was in the room…His shirt was unbuttoned and an unlit cigarette was loosely hanging from his lips…He took a matchbox from the table drawer and left the room…

Wait…James could hear someone shouting….

Yes…Thomas has just been caught…He wanted to tell Philip but he seems almost frozen behind the suitcase….

It was almost 5 minutes now…James was sure Thomas and Freddie had been caught…but he waited…

Amma came to the room again and she was exhausted it seemed…And Appa came again into the room….He lighted a cigarette and was walking back…when Amma stopped him…

“Could you find James …He has still not taken a bath…and I have got work in the kitchen”

Appa’s eyes were red now….James was quite worried dad would search for him soon…But instead something else happened…

“Who me…” Appa moved closer to Amma and asked mocking at her…

James had seen Appa getting angry before…But this was different…….

“That little weasel is your son….the liability you bought along… Don’t expect me to be his Dad when I am not…! “…..Dad hissed at Amma in front of his eyes…

Amma slumped on the chair and James could see tears trickling down her eyes…and a desperate attempt to fight back sobs hidden inside for long…..That was a sad woman who was slaved to exist… a resigned existence enclosed in a shroud of a untold past ….Amidst all ado he saw Philip running out and fighting with Deepu…Over the shouting, through the crevice James could see Amma wiping of her tears as Dad went away…but the tears did not stop… Deepu was shouting that the game was over as everyone was caught….and saying James need not worry about searching others for the next round…

But James was worried….Worried that he found himself…and nowhere to hide from the truth…With closed eyes he reclined his head to the little crevice…it was pitch dark anyways.…

The game was over.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Oh dear !!
when you are near
Aint no fear.

Oh beer!!
You are
so dear
Bring on more cheer!!

My beloved beer, I sometimes get so overwhelmed emotionally when I sing the song that it leaves me in tears. Beer has always been a lager than life figure for me… My dear friends, today I would like to share with you the qualities of a beverage that makes life all the more meaningful…all the more purposeful…People say some times the existence of sun, rainbows, flowers…. are signs that God exists…But like someone said I feel the same when I see a mug of chilled beer….

Even in biblical passages the importance of beer has been elaborately described as you know from a wedding which happened at Bishop Pereira hall in Galilee….Several barrels of water were converted to nectarous beer by the Lord when there was a shortage of beer at the reception party…Though the French might argue it was wine, its quite obvious that it was beer since the incident happened at Cana from where the can beer originated. Moreover archeologist have recently discovered ancient mugs with a kingfisher label on it disapproving the skeptics.

Nevertheless let me explain to you the influence of beer in contemporary times…esp. in Germany where I currently stay and more importantly coz Germany and Beer are like Bread and Butter or say BJP and Jinnah !!

Any self-respecting beer aficionado would admit that the best beer in the world comes from Germany and its influence in the social fabric of this wonderful country is paramount…burp!! Due to the terrific social security coverage provided here, every new born in Germany is entitled to 6 mugs of beer every day from the day he/she is born. A vital nourishment of necessary proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins during the growing phase of a child…And unlike in India, employees are immediately dismissed if they are found attending office without the influence of beer which is considered gross violation of office ethics. Beer is also the medium of a barter exchange system which has been followed in Germany for several years...Roughly speaking, 3 barrels of good quality Bavarian beer can fetch you a Porsche 911….It was only a few months ago Lufthansa offered me a ticket to India in exchange for a case of beck’s beer. Advanced society it is, but unknown to the outside world is the bane of this country….the dowry system which is deeply rooted in the german psyche…Parents of poor german Heidi Klums have to work hard in the best days of their life to save euros for one beer brewery and a pair of lederhosen …the often acceptable dowry for a young Wolfgang!!…

The german beer is also famous for its excellent nutritive qualities….Consumption in large quantities can increase the intelligences of humans manifold…For e.g.…history has shown that Albert Einstein derived the formula e=mc² during one such binge drinking sessions at a beer hall in Munich….Renewed interest by researchers have lead scientists to notice that a Indian who has been residing in Germany for past 3 years(for privacy reasons person chooses to remain anonymous) started exhibiting remarkable intelligence previously never noticed…. Scientist in his home country and his parents especially consider it as a miracle of sorts… Press reporters contacted the brother of the alleged genius and they could only decipher a furious person shouting...”schmuck!!!!!!!!!”

To mark this event, the German chancellor has recently announced plans to honour another Indian Mr. Mallya for spreading the cheer across the world…He would be honored with a doctorate at the University of Potsdam for noteworthy contributions to the general state of bliss in people around parts of Asia….In a touching speech Angela Merkel told the press that she was so chilled to meet the Kingfisher from India and wished him good times in the years to come. As a reciprocatory humanitarian gesture Mr. Mallya spend several hours at a Kindergarten near Berlin narrating witty stories of Beerbal and AkBAR to the thrilled kids …

Talking about other influences of beer, its an integral part of the german cuisine … German Kanji which is basically rice soaked in beer and allowed to ferment overnight is a delicacy in this part of the world…smells wonderful the next day!!. This is though served only on celebratory occasions like demise of a mother-in-law or a divorce!! Beer is also very good if you are interested in indo-german cooking…One of my favorite indo-german meal is sausage thoran with rice and sambhar cooked in beer…Well if you want to be a tad adventurous you could try beer payasam too...Though I have never tried it coz I don’t experiment too much with recipes..

Nevertheless, it is heartening to see the benefits of beer touch lives in Germany…though sometimes knocking over….In the field of sports…street fights….and even medicine!! Beer is administered using intravenous fluid injections to treat cancer, AIDS, swine flu and cardio vascular diseases bringing care to millions of sick people….Devotees swarm at Munich every October to pay homage and take a dip in a barrel of beer which is supposed to have therapeutic effect to the mind and soul. I hope to make it one day….

It is unfortunate that there are many non-believers in the world whose anti-beer propaganda is causing deep anguish in us….And what all they say…. beer belly…whisky is better….beer smell is a turn off….blasphemy!! well what shall I say …

Grab a beer…or rather get a life!!

Prost!! :-)
p.s pic courtesy

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Today out of sheer curiosity I checked the sent items from my mail box…sent items which were around three years old…Below are excerpts from mail communication which happened back then….

The mail below was the first one I send to home my relatives…forgive the poorly constructed sentences as it was meant to be a mail to be shared only with my family…some of my sentences are embarassing..i hope you can excuse me for that...;-P

After a really mad rush to buy to stuff before leaving, I finally reached blore on the 2nd of September. September third was onam feast at jimmy chachan’s place. And we were treated to some excellent delicacies by Lissy aunty...And then we played caroms with Ann and Tessa along with jimmy chachan, ravi chettan and Baby...In the evening Amma,ravi chettan and baby dropped me at the airport…On the way we dropped at a church to pray for a safe journey...and thankfully it worked out!!

The flight from Bombay to Charles de Gaulle airport was magnificent bcoz we had all sort of gizmos in the n all. Although the flight was 9 hours long I hardly slept for 3 hours as I was more pumped with adrenalin anticipating for a glimpse of Europe...It was enchanting to see sunrise from top of the world. Finally reached Paris at 7.45 am and had my own time to spare bcoz my next flight was only at 11.50 am. Spend that time marveling the beautiful airport..

The third leg of my trip was less exciting bcoz I was pretty tired bcoz of lack of sleep.And I slept through the flight from Paris to Hamburg.

And I finally stepped on Hamburg airport. I just cant help but recall the famous Neil Armstrong quote..A small step for Chekku but a giant leap for my dreams...hehehe..

And then just like Dasan in naadodikaatu I waved for a taxi and there comes a Mercedes Benz right in front of me..That was a bolt from the blue when I saw that most taxis here are top end luxury cars back home..reached my hotel in 15 min..But I guess that covered about 20 kms..Everything moves fast out here..My hotel is a small dingy room with all basic features..Nothing much to explain about..

I had lunch at 3 pm from a Indian restaurant near the hotel and spend about an hour roaming the places around the hotel.Evening ,I visited the residence of my boss and Had dinner from his place..So day 1 was kind of easing myself to hamburg climate ..

Day 2

Met a Indian colleague of mine in office and her briefed about the work n stuff..
I couldn’t meet my sahippu boss bcoz he had gone to Toulouse, France that day..

On Thursday I finally met my Sahippu boss and he will help me out with all work related things..
Meanwhile evenings I spend moving around the streets in hamburg..Took a tourist ferry which showed all the narrow waterways in Hamburg. They looked like Venice for me..
By the way Hamburg is the 2nd biggest port in Europe so its kinda place where lot of foreigners come..

Now I have started searching for a house here bcoz I cant stay in a hotel for long..Moreover I cant start a bank account /get a resident permit and get a mobile connection only after I find a house..So that the story till now…

The climate here is excellent ..15-20 deg max…Although its going to snow in the coming months..Thats the part am looking forward to..

Guess this is the biggest letter I have written ever…Neways thanx a lot for the prayers and wishes..


Today i got some free time in office.
The initial days of boredom (coz of absence of work) are over. Nowadays am in full throttle at work place...and time runs by fast.. Here its pretty cold now…occasionally dropping to minus temperatures…fortunately the sweaters and jackets help me keep cozy...Once you are inside house there isn’t any problem coz we switch on the heaters. Since its winter now. Sun rises at around 7.45 am and its dark by 4.30 pm...I found it strange that there is hardly any time with proper daylight during winter. The 'fall' part was awesome ..In a matter of weeks...the leaves turned into a hue of…etc…until all of em fell down...In a matter of weeks the trees are left with just the trunk and branches..

Pinee regarding the food part...breakfast is usually some quick fix on weekdays…sandwiches…fruits...corn flakes...leftover chappatis...Lunch time I take something from the canteen in office...Some occasional spurts of adventurism encourages me to try out the german dishes…Though the chicken/pork/fish which they make has little or no spice...they are quite edible. Deserts are somehow what make things attractive for me...esp. the puddings.. Am having some variety of pudding with fruit salads almost daily...And then you have potato engineered into different forms...french fires...baked potato…steamed potato.. and then 100's of breads of different shape and that more or less makes up my lunch..

Veetil timepass is TV...internet...adventurous cooking...I can infact watch Asianet through internet…So at times i get to catch up a few movies in it.. Last week i made fish fry and fish molly...I got the recipe for Fish Molly from the net and tried it out...Although it might not have been exactly fish Molly after i prepared ,it came close to a Fish Susanna or something!! :) ..I had all the things to make the curry except curry leaves. so it did not turnout bad actually...And my andhrite roommate brings up some hot n spicy Andhra dishes which am liking….Food is now not a big headache as i expected!!

Read your letter with more details. Still we all are eager to know more and more about Germany and your life there. Any problem in communication outside office? How is your boss? Have you got freedom to write personal letters at the office? What about your washing and ironing? Did the pickle stain go from your shirts? Are there people helping you find a house? Giving suggestions?
I am very very slow in typing. Still I plan to send an e-mail to you on alternate days. I have taken leave for tomorrow as I have so much work to be completed. Yesterday Daddy and Aunty were here. We played cards for sometime. Special items were cutlets, manga chammandi, and semia payasam. How do you like German food? Hope your life is tension free and the work or training you have is manageable. ..

My dear Chekku
Necessity is the mother of invention and as such I somewhat learnt how to e-mail. Very happy to hear that U are comfortable there. U must have started procedures to settle yourself . Praying God that you may tide over difficulties (if any) successfully. Conveniences of the hotel you are staying-like an average Indian hotel room? food available? cost of living? How many more days can u stay at the hotel? xxxx will pay the bill?After U get internet connection U will know news about India and Kerala?

lots of love

Hi Chetta,
Hope u r enjoying life with beers. Have you substituted it for water. By now you must have watched all the DVD's that you had taken there. Did you get to visit that Nazi concentration camp? If not, would be nice if u buy a digital cam so that we can also have a glimpse of that and also other places u plan to visit during your stay.

My dear Chekku,
We are all very much relieved that you started staying in a house and there is a Malayalee staying with you.. How is your new residence? Facilities? Accessibility to traffic? Can you have one room for yourself? Rent? Advance?
Regarding recipes:

Chicken - 1 kg
Tomato -3
Masala powder: Use the powder taken from here (3 tablespoons)
Ginger paste (1 teaspoon) or if pieces 1/2 tablespoon
Small onions (chopped)-10, or 2 big onions
Garlic - 6 pieces
Salt to taste
Oil (as required, max. 1.5 tablespoon)

Heat oil in a kadai (or pressure cooker) and sauté the onions, garlic and ginger. When the aroma starts from the mixture, add the paste of the masala powders and fry in low flame. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry for a while. Now add the chicken pieces and salt and cook with the vessel closed. Put the weight of the cooker and increase the flame. When 1st whistle is heard, lower the flame and keep for 15 mins more. Now the chicken curry is ready.

You can make modifications according to the flops you make. As your housemate knows cooking you can consult him. Is it common or self cooking?

Is it training or work for you now? How is it? No tension? Manageable? Are you getting letters from your friends? Expecting long letters from you.
with lots of love

When I read these mails I was chuckling….laughing when I think about how much I have changed and how much the people around me have changed as well…the curiousity to know how I was adjusting to a new life and culture....Today I finish my three years in Germany…..It has been a roller coaster of a ride….I can still remember my first flight…my first drive in a Mercedes taxi…my first stay in a hotel alone… first time talking to a non-Indian….my first time having a meal with knife and fork….there were so many new and first things which happened in the month of September three year ago…..I remember that the day before the flight we celebrated onam at my uncle’s place in Bangalore….I think I was not really tense for some reason and I really don’t know why I was not….probably I was too overwhelmed by the turn of events….But today in office...everything was déjà vu…when I opened the door (used to get confused big-time the initial days coz in India we pull the door to open unlike here…), when I had lunch with colleagues with knife and fork (I was trying to sneak a glance how others did it during those initial lunches), when I said hello to my german colleague (apprehension about how to interact with a european colleague)…. It indeed was a learning experience for me all these years….

Thanks to all of you for keeping wonderful company in the blogworld…thanks to my friends and relatives who kept checking on me for the last three years…thanks to my parents…thanks to the Indian community in Hamburg…thanks to my german friends and colleagues…and thanks to Deutschland for being a wonderful host country and teaching me a lot!!! :)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Happy Onam and a bloglink

Well its the time of the year for all malayalees to celebrate and spend time with family, buy new clothes and enjoy the fabulous sadya....Wishing you all a happy onam....I have been blogging much less these days, but I got something good to read....My aunt who is retired English professor is a excellent writer, a great chef and above all a wonderful person...Recently on her 60th birthday, her kids gifted a printed book which contained most of the articles, poems or speeches written by her. Although I was promised a copy of the book I was too curious to read it and got the soft copy from my cousin...And true to the spirit of a blogger, I could not resist putting them in a blog and share the work to you...The entire content of the book was copied to this blog ( The contents are a eclectic mix of poems, thoughts and speeches...And the language is great true to the skills of a English professor who was teaching for 35 years !!! So this blog is a onam gift to all of you!! Thanks to my aunt!! :-)