The monsoon is here! Yippeee!!
For as long as I can remember, it always rains here (in Kerala) on the first day of school. There we would be standing at the bus stop with our new uniforms and new stuff, and Bam!! It would rain. drenching us..school bags and shoes and all.. After a a few years of this, we got the hang of it, and we would remember to take umbrellas or raincoats along. Nobody really liked raincoats… we considered them childish, and preferred the more grown up and dignified umbrella. In those days, there were very few colored umbrellas available, and those that were, used to be very expensive. So what some of us creative geniuses (including yours truly!ahem!) used to do was..we would do some art work on those dull black umbrellas like paint on it with fabric paint(they were all the rage then!) or stick sequins or funny buttons….do colorful embroidery….etc.
I remember that our classroom corners were allotted for drying the umbrellas and there used to be at least twenty umbrellas all opened up and parked to dry, so we could safely stow them inside our bags. Those were lovely days.. My school was a convent in an Anglo Indian colony at Kollam…right next to the seashore. From our class rooms, we could see the waves crashing thunderously onto the beach…it would be all dark and damp inside the room(half the time, the lights would never work..) such a cozy and drowsy atmosphere that created.. While the teacher droned on about ab squared plus xyz , sodium hydrochloride, manganese, or the Sepoy Mutiny, half of us would either be sleeping, or the other half would be staring dreamily out at the sheets of rain and the waves outside our windows!!
But.. I digress here. I wanted to talk about this year’s monsoon, and then I went into flashback mode and started talking about the monsoons of about 20 years ago!
This year, it started raining heavily in May itself.. This was quite unusual, since May is peak summer season normally. It rained all through the first three weeks of May, then stopped. Mind you, it was not the normal monsoon type rain also..just rain in fits and starts..totally unpredictable. The monsoon here is a nonstop serenade of raindrops from early morning to night with some short breaks thrown in..
This year, as usual, I went shopping with the kids for school supplies in late May. Basically, all we needed to buy were a pencil box, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, and umbrellas since the school provides the rest (lovely no? school bags, notebooks, text books, shoes uniforms, everything is taken care of by the school authorities) I decided to let them have a free hand in selection of their stuff, and so I told J1, J2 and J3 that they could decide what they wanted, provided they stay within a budget. Left to myself, I would have finished that shopping within 15 minutes…but no, Mrs. Smart Mom had to do this. Never again!!
Pencils, box, etc were dealt with and finished in 1 hour..(wow! A miracle!) but umbrellas…my God..(or, as I would say, Ya Allah!) it took them a solid two hours to make a final decision on the type of umbrellas they wanted! I can’t blame them too much, though… there was such a wide variety of kiddies umbrellas available.. In different colors and shapes, stylish prints…what not! I myself was bewildered by the vast selection available for kids nowadays.
J2 and J3 would decide on one umbrella, and then, when I would turn my attention to J1 , they would change their minds and grab at another umbrella which seemed even more interesting. J1 was not very happy at having to select the type of umbrellas that his brother and sister preferred . He felt they were too childish, and wanted something more grownup. According to him, “ my umbrella should be special, Umma, one that no one else has..it should have colour, but not the bright ones like J2’s red striped one, or J3’s yellow umbrella with Tweety simpering on it’s crown! “ Phew!
Add to those three nitpicking brats a shopful of other nitpicking brats, all preparing for schooldays…and you have a madhouse filled with screaming, crying kids and parents..(yes!parents do cry and scream when they get desperate!)
Finally, after a solid two hours of scrounging through that huge shop, I found THE UMBRELLA! It was a deep midnight blue one, with shadings of soft brown, like a night sky, with stars twinkling at scattered points all around it. It looked very stylish and different from all the normal garishly colored kiddies umbrellas. If you pushed a button on it’s handle, it’s tip would start glowing as well as the tips all round the bottom half. Best of all, it fitted into my budget of Rs. 150 for each umbrella.
J3 was soo excited that she wouldshow everyone she met that day her new umbrella and she’d insist on telling them the whole story of how she chose for herself, and about J1’s grand grown up umbrella(!)
( I have a small confession to make myself.. I ended up buying a lovely umbrella for myself too!)
So then we were all eagerly waiting for the first rains as well as the first day of school.. when it dawned …all bright and sunny!
When people all around were happy that it had not rained that day and made a mess of roads, new uniforms…we were totally disappointed at not being able to use our fancy new umbrellas! It hadn’t rained at all this first week, and the kids were getting restless.
“ Umma..why doesn’t it rain? When are we going to use our new umbrellas?”
Today morning dawned all sunny as usual…no even more sunnier than usual. The glare of sunlight was so blinding that I started getting a headache. By afternoon, I was complaining to N, “ This is getting ridiculous!when will the monsoon come? I ‘m starting to hate the sun!” And N just smiled and said,” you’re worse than the kids! Be patient..it will come. It’s a bit late..but it will surely come within this week.”
About fifteen minutes later, the skies darken , there’s a chill wind blowing..and the temperature drops rapidly. Still no rain..but the sky looks promising..It’s all cloudy and dark..filled with moisture. Another fifteen minutes of tensed waiting, and the Gods decide to smile on us. It’s raining ..raining raining…Giant sheets of water drop out of the sky all at the same time, as if someone poked a pin into a giant water balloon!
The kids come back home all drenched(they hadn’t taken umbrellas since it wasn’t raining when they left) and with huge grins plastered on their faces!
“umma..can we go out and splash in the puddles with our umbrellas?
Umma, could you help me make paper boats to float in the rain water?”
I am literally drenched with suggestions of how to enjoy this grand rain…
But I’m no longer listening…I’m walking in the rain with my new umbrella, and breathing in the warm earthy smell that wafts up into the air with the first rains….
Chicken 500 gm
Pepper powder 2 tbsp
(Preferably freshly powdered)
Turmeric powder 2 tsp
Coriander powder 2 tsp
Ginger crushed 2 tsp
Tomato sliced thin 1
Onion /shallots 200 gm
(2 onions /15-20 shallots)
Green chilly slit 2
Coconut Oil 5 tbsp
Salt to Taste
1. Wash and cut the chicken into small pieces.
2. Mix all the spices and keep aside 2 tsp of this to use in the masala later.
3. Rub the rest of spices mixed onto the chicken pieces and marinate for 2 to 4 hours in refrigerator.
4. Heat oil , saute chicken pieces in this till half cooked.Remove chicken from pan and keep aside.
5. Sauté onion, green chillies , ginger and tomato till soft.
6. Add chicken and the rest of the ingredients.
Saute well on high flame till well blended.
7. Garnish with fried curry leaves , serve piping hot with chapatis, parathas, or any type of bread.
Tip:Use a tbsp of curd for the marinade. Makes the chicken really soft.
Such a perfect dish for a rainy day...