Friday, November 23, 2012

Chronicles of Nevin: Rise of the crawler

Nevin making earnest promise to be nice to the bolster.

Continuing occasional documenting of Nevin Shankaran Kumar’s passage of time, or how he abuses his Accha (dad) and Amma (mom).

Well, here’s a great news about Nevin (to long suffering Accha and Amma), the drool phase is sort of over (re: previous instalment on this series). That’s about the only good news. The thing is, Nevin can now sit on his ass on his own without tumbling over like an empty whiskey bottle next to a drunk.

And he has started crawling! Aaaarrrrgh! You can control a house pet, including your alcoholic uncle, but one thing you can never be fully in charge of is a crawling baby (and the terrifying sequel, The Walking Baby [unrated]).

One moment he’d be down there at your feet where you are blocking him from something (the lower rack of your bookcase for example) and you scratch your bum, distracted slightly, and voila! He’s halfway to the kitchen to wreak havoc there.

Nine month’s old last week, Nevin is now increasingly showing the traits of an animal in survival mode – bite anything that you can grab on with your hands. There’d be bits stuff on the floor, but his rule is, if you can’t grab it with your hands, you don’t put it in your mouth.

You see, one of our rooms in the apartment has faulty parquet flooring, you know, those wooden bars held together. One day, again I was distracted by something, maybe hunger while waiting for wife to have the meal first, there he was, found a loose parquet wooden bar and looking at it lustily like we would to a Hershey chocolate bar. Luckily, dad was in time to remove it from his hand, and he revealed another in the other hand!

Yes, that damned teething again. The cannibalistic gnawing mentioned previously has not stopped. Unposted criminal records showed that he had once attempted to gnaw on Amma’s leg, her shoulder, and Accha’s ear, in particular displaying his insatiable greed for the earlobes. Once sitting down with him on the floor, and distracted for a moment, as usual, I suddenly felt something damp on my goddam heel!!! You know what that is.

Standing him up on my lap would be the biggest mistake I would ever commit: he’d immediately reach for the last few strands of hair on my head and try to lead them to freedom! And I’d do it again and again. Yes, when you are a father to an infant, your IQ goes right down the drain and into the sewerage and join many other dad’s runaway IQs.

Speaking of which, in the name of grooming him to become a macho man, I’d engage him in a fight. Yes, a real fight, only we do it like they do in cinema, not really hitting each other. Mano-o-baby. I’d grab hold of him (on the floor), and rabbit-punch his bum (fully protected by disposable napkin) and emit the fight sounds they use back in the 80s in Tamizh and Hindi films.

Aside: There are differences in those sounds. For example, in the 80sTamizh films, if the guy is blocking or just smacking, the sound would be “tub”, “tub” and full-on ass-kicking, “toobuhait!”, a departure from pre-80s “dishyum!”  as Tamizh films were embracing Jackie Fu at that time. For Hindi effect, I use the full-throated male-voiced “Bishyumbhhh”. No, seriously, checkout the Hindi films of that time. End of aside.

Of course, with my vigorous fake punch-throwing, blocking and voice-overs, he’d just try to crawl his way out as if nothing is happening. And I am the one who gets tired. Why can’t he accept this as serious sport, jeez man!

As for feeding, he’s started eating rice cereals with chicken bits or anchovies. Occasionally he gets yummy chocolate rusks, which he really loves, as does his chin and nose. Meal or milk is never an issue with him, unless its ads time on TV.

Yes, you moms and dads know this. They just get hypnotised when the ads are on. He’d be as interested as a cow over medium rare steak when other shows are going on, but when the advertisements are on, he’s hooked. I even tried to take advantage of this situation, the ads segment would be on, and I’d go:

Me: Nevin will stay put for the next twenty minutes while Acha and Amma finally have our dinner.
Me: Correction, Nevin will stay put for the next half an hour because Acha might go for second helping.

Yes! Total hypnosis. When the ad ends and the regular programs begin, he’d be at that room attempting to gnaw the loose parquet piece. 

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Chef Jacob – Cook-in-peace.

What a devastating day yesterday was. I was at home, on medical leave due to excessive eating of spicy chicken Varuval that I cooked on Sunday that literally backfired in the early morning, when I was informed that the one of the most important persons who was influential in my cooking, Chef Jacob, had passed away. And he was only 38.

Saturday 1.30 pm is the best time of the week for us, as Sun TV (channel 211 here)  airs Aha Enna Rusi, a cooking show hosted by this maverick chef who specialises in Southern Indian cuisine, especially the traditional ones. It is divided into three sections. The first section is his, called Jacob’s Kitchen and that’s a joke, the title.

We are not invited to his kitchen, but rather the various outdoor locations where he sets up his little stove and does the cooking there and then. He’d be by the waterfall, in the middle of a plantation, in a boat cruising by a river, and in one episode, I kid you not, right in the middle of a famous railway track!! Nonchalantly talking to us, giving tips, while we viewers nervously lookout for the goddam train to come.

Second segment takes us, again not in his kitchen, but to various family homes, where a member, sometimes two (husband wife/ mother daughter/etc) show us their home specialties, followed by our beloved chef tasting and appraising the dishes.

Third segment sees Chef Jacob with a bunch of kids, where he teaches them basic dish (usually involving bread), and get some other kids to judge the dish and awards the winner with prizes and crown. Rather than this, my wife and I enjoy the outtakes at the end of the show, of this segment, where Chef Jacob has fun with the kids.

The main highlight of his first segment is that it commemorates all those Hindu, Muslim and Christian special events. He’d be there, at those temples, churches or mosques, explaining the history behind the event, background of the holy place, and cooking suitable dish for that event.

Like  most South Indian Christian/Catholics that I know, and generally in India, I believe, he’s never shy from participating in Hindu rituals, praying, and, in fact, cooking special offering for the Hindu gods and goddesses (do note, that Hindu gods and goddesses all have their preferences, and he obliges with something extra). Likewise, excited enough to cook Briyani in front a famous mosque for the muslim brethrens (recent Haj festival), and that too, confessing that he has always been fascinated with Muslim cooking.

Its ritual for us, to be there at 1.30pm and watching the show. In fact, that would be the time sometimes we’d have our lunch in front of the TV, just to get more flavour in my poor cooking, I guess. If we had to go out at that time, we’d wonder, “What Chef Jacob up to now, and where (not what) the heck is he cooking?”

Last eight months or so, my wife started teaching part time on Saturdays. I continued our ritual watching the good chef with my son, Nevin. And when she comes back from work, one of the first things she’d ask would be, “What Chef Jacob is up to today?’

His dishes range from the very normal to very traditional, and I always look forward to the complex traditional types of dishes. In the show last week, he made a nifty fish curry by not using a fish but banana flower – fantastic for someone like me might be full vegetarian one day but still misses fish curry.

Alas, all that ends (they might have one more episode next week with him, but I don’t think I can hold back my tears watching it). The show might move on with another chef, who could be good, but memories of watching Jacob would remain entrenched that we may no longer want to follow the show.

The TVland is full of celebrity chefs now. Some are genial, good natured guys and gals, and then there are some bastards who think that being rude means they are in command. Fuck them; there will be, and are better chefs than these attention seeking sons of bitches (so far the gals are fine).

But Chef Jacob’s warm personality (as my wife puts it aptly), his keen interest in the history of the dish he is preparing, his generous sharing of the information and history of the location that he’s in (still baffled why he’d want to talk about the railway track and cook in the goddam middle of it), his easy chemistry as an elder brother to the kids, is something that can never been seen again.

Good bye, brother. We all love you. No matter where you are now, talk to those in charge and find the most weirdest location for you to cook for those fellers. And now, away from human beings, the pollutions, the erosion of great manners (in your profession), and all those nastiness that will remain and grow in this mortal world, I trust you are now cooking in peace. Thank you for everything.