Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Deepavali/Diwali: A Dissection.

Deepavali/Diwali always meant long holidays, fireworks (crackers, really) going off all day and all night and a smorgasbord of sweets sent by neighbours.
Time passes. Diwali meant more prep time for exams, duties I'm required to cover, congested shopping areas with hordes of police-protection and crackers going off all day (bursting them between the hours of 10 PM and 6 AM has been banned. One of the rare useful laws the Government has passed)

However, there are some consistencies in Indian festivals. Things that don't have a shot in hell of ever changing. Read clash-y huge-budget releases (Vijay/Ajith, Vijay/Surya or Rajini/Yeah, right), marathons of sitcoms/"cine" programs on the TV, explosive rise in gold prices...

And yeah. Food and Family/Friends. Not in that order. Mostly.

While everybody wakes up at the crack of dawn for their oil-baths and the like, we sleep in. Wake up to the third cookie-hamper coming from one of Dad's friends. Lounge in front of the TV with a cup of black chai, getting my digestive enzymes ready for a true Tamil-style Deepavali feast.

C's mum's lunches are legendary... things you brave the rain and dangerous, Lakshmi-vedi-filled roads for. I learnt this when I overstayed one evening at their place, almost a decade back and was served piping hot rava kesari, bonda and filter coffee.

Meant to be consumed, sitting on the famous swing:

While being the butt of all jokes. Wait, that's just me.

This time, my little sister joins us for the first time, decked in her pattu-pavadai. She keeps me busy and worried enough... some how, I still get embarrassed. That stays consistent, too.

After catching up on the latest and sipping on preprandial juice, we wait for the last person to join us (with well-deserved guilt plastered all over their faces, anticipation over ours'). File into the dining room. And let the feasting begin.

Cautionary note: The photos, being taken on a stormy, grey day and by someone with zero photography-skills, will not do the food justice. But this practically applies to every post on the blog.
Puffy pooris!

Served with chana masala, bursting with plump chickpeas and fresh coriander in a fragrant tomato-onion gravy. Meant to be scooped up with little pieces of the pooris. Not to be eaten in handfuls, like you would with popcorn. Doesn't stop me.

Eid's tamilian counterpart. Brinji/Vegetable biryani with buttery croutons strewed on top.

Fluffy grains of rice, crunchy bits of vegetable are tossed with variety of heartening herbs and spices. Soul-food and sophistication on a plate.

Eaten with a little raita made with homemade curd/yogurt and crunchy onion. And medhu vada.

The logical, human thing to do is to overdose on the extremely-rare-to-come-across and excessively-delicious Tamil-veg food. Experience has taught me better. Always save space for Thayir semiya.

Doesn't look like The Piece de Resistance, does it now?

I'm eating the leftovers (which I unashamedly asked Aunty to pack for me to take home) even as I'm typing this post. It ranks up there, with Nutella, for me. How else can I describe it?
C's mum protests each time I rave over the Thayir Semiya... it's extremely simple and unworthy of high praise, she argues.

But you know what they say about the best gifts coming in brown-paper packages.

This time, the best gift is boiled vermicelli tossed with homemade yogurt, a little milk, salt and pomegranate, basically. It won't taste the same if I make it. I've accepted it, and it's a valid life choice.

Lunch finishes with the best part of the meal (I'm allowed to have up to 4 best parts, right?) That would be the

Dessert! Homemade maavu ladoo, adhirasam (holy yum!), coconut burfi and chocolate cupcakes. This is also the time when you collect your Diwali bounty from all those in attendance: homemade murukku, sweets, foreign-chocolate (notice the Ferroro Rocher!) and gifts to take back in neat little Ziploc bags and boxes.

Calories don't count. Calories don't exist. They're in your head. And in textbooks of Physics. Wear your fatpants. You can believe in them again tomorrow.

The evening ends with introducing my fearless sister to fireworks. Not ones that are products of child-labour. Not enough to pollute the environment and exacerbate an acute attack in any passing asthmatic. Just enough sparklers to match the ones in The Sister's eyes (who randomly declares "I'm so happy!")

So I've realized what Diwali/Deepavali actually means: Tamilian hospitality, good (albeit annoying) friends, great food and grey skies lit with laughter and light.



  1. Jealous! But that just means the post really got to me! God I miss Diwali in Chennai so much!

  2. Aw. I don't know whether I should thank you or apologise now! You should try scheduling your vacation days around Diwali some year soon; you won't regret it!

  3. Hey, nice site you have here! Keep up the excellent work!

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