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Now Brewing

Now Brewing

punggol peripatetics

punggol apparently means “hurling sticks at the branches of fruit trees to bring them down to the ground” in malay. it also may refer to a wholesale market for fruits and vegetables. i had never heard of this area in the northeast of singapore till one day someone spoke of the wonderful seafood you get out there. a couple of years later, i heard punggol mentioned in the prime minister’s national day speech, seemed it was going to be developed…

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Now Brewing

a meeting in mandai

mandai has such a pretty sound and it usually means the zoo to me. but we were not going to go there, we decided, we’d just start out at some point on mandai road and walk around upper seletar reservoir, singapore’s oldest freshwater lake (i don’t like the word catchment) and then follow the road, see where we land up. aj, my really understanding personal trainer to whom i can happily say i hate the word gym unless he means…

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Now Brewing

A Future Fantasy – A poem

Sometimes I wonder, how the future would be Sometimes I ponder on the lines of a fantasy With not just flying cars, but people flying around A visual spectacle, something like tomorrowland And then I begin to think, how will be the societies? Will there be peace around, or still the animosities? Will the borders be erased, will it be a free world? Or avenging continues for matters age old? Will there be equality among genders, classes and races? Will…

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Now Brewing

two walks in katong

once, the sea used to come right up to katong, and wealthy merchants and traders had their mansions along the coast. there are several big houses here still, but the sea has been pushed back, by almost a mile i think. i first came to katong – a suburb in the east – with a colleague, to buy cheap perfumes at katong shopping centre. everything changes in singapore, all the time, but happily, the shopping centre with its deep blue…

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sarees tell stories

a lament for a saree

it’s a favourite saree of mine, and now it’s fraying. a strange kind of pain at this weakening of closely entwined threads, at this clear signal of mortality, at passing. it’s a saree from orissa, now the spelling has been changed to odisha; we spend a lot of time changing spellings for some reason. my mother and i bought it, around thirty five years ago, from one of the saree shops along triangular park in kolkata (we changed that spelling…

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Espresso Shots

revolution

the tiny dark man in spotless white dhoti and panjabi – in bengal the kurta has been called that for a very long time – had just reached the palm tree at the end of the unpaved gravel strewn path leading up to the house. rimi peered out of the window, her eyes getting brighter with each step the man took, as she unconsciously closed the book lying on the desk. she’d study later. now, it was time for bismil…

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food

the baghdadi jewish dish that was created in mumbai and kolkata

the taste was sour and sweet, a smooth, compelling aroma filled my mouth and nose, the texture was silky, a depth in it. i’d never tasted a chicken dish like this before. i’d never tasted anything like this before. the first time i had chicken chitannee, i certainly didn’t think of aurangzeb, or the british, or dawud pasha, the last mamluk ruler of baghdad. the dense gravy, mixed with fluffy white gobindobhog rice wouldn’t brook any thinking. the tender yet…

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food

if winter comes, can motorer kochuri be far behind

food is so much about memory, isn’t it? i can’t even hear the words “motorer kochuri” without thinking of my mother. my mother was not a great cook, in fact she was never too keen to visit the kitchen. she had, however, the most discerning sense of taste and understanding of the various stages of cooking. she was particular about the spices and condiments she believed a dish called for. the balance of ingredients was important, getting the right inflection…

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Mythology and More

why the hanukkah story reminds me of madhusudan’s magic pot

actually, there’s no magic involved. both are stories of faith. perhaps the sort of faith that brings miracle. i heard one when i was a child, the other after i got married. as my husband, who is jewish, finished telling me why eight oil lamps are lit on hanukkah, i thought of a tiny pot of yogurt and the tale of madhusudan’s bhar. “bhar” means earthenware pot in bengali, and the sound of “r” at the end is more like…

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sarees tell stories

iron nails and camel dung

the more i look at the saree, the more it wraps me in thoughts. random ones that i can’t arrange beautifully like the profusion of hand printed patterns on it. i want to write a simple piece, i mutter to myself… about those nails and camel dung, but i can’t stop the steady stream of images and words: shadowy memories of things heard far away in the past, and some just the other day. cotton trade, american civil war, indigo…

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