A Lazy Daisy Deepavali

Posted by Lakshmi

Monday, 31 October 2011

For the first time in as many years as I can remember, I spent the first part of the day watching TV  and I couldn't believe it myself !! It was a special Deepavali  programme on ASTRO -an hour long Oddisi performance by  the famous Ramli Ibrahim and his troupe of dancers.  That was at about  7.30am in the morning when I should have been having my traditional oil bath and preparing to go to the temple !  Mesmerising and utterly utterly  captivating..... I was so in awe of his fluidity of movement,  his nuances, his precise and exacting step work, his grace and stamina, his perfect timing .... .... Gosh, I'm  still not over him yet !   (Sigh )  If only I could dance like him and dance with him !! I couldn't take my eyes off  and  was transfixed with my eyes bulging out of my sockets..... ... By Jove!  it was that beautiful an experience for me, to put it mildly.

I was feeling guilty  of " wasting time " as there were so many things to do but yet couldn't resist the lure of Ramli Ibrahim's masterpieces of  dance ( there I go again !) And so,  against my better judgment and with 2 manipulative kids who  i ) 'advised' me to enjoy myself for once without prancing around the house bugging them  and ii ) told me that  this was a one off ASTRO special and no repeats ,   I sat through the 1 hour show  and was  thoroughly and truly in a world of my own.

Now, that was a smashing  great start for me on Deepavali

Later after fetching my  youngest sister, Poonam, from the train station, we all went to offer our prayers at the temple and had a leisurely breakfast/brunch/lunch all rolled together, sort of  a  "three-in-one" kinda of thing.  My sister had us in stitches with her tales of office happenings and I was glad of her presence.   That was a 'first' too.  Normally it would have been friends pouring in from the word GO at 9am  and me bustling  frantically making thosai after thosai after thosai  and hollering  at my kids to refill the chutney, the chicken curry, the cakes, cookies, traditional sweetmeats etc., etc.  No wonder my kids were smiling all day .  I didn't realise I had made them all stressed out all these years until my daughter told me what a difference it was this year. " For once we enjoyed ourselves" they said ! Didn't know that I was such a dragon ... dear me !

The torrential rain made its appearance in the afternoon and gave us all a respite .   Watching the rain pouring down as I sat down in the  cosy wing chair with my feet on the footstool and a  cup of ginger tea clasped in my hands, a feeling of gratefulness of the blessings I have enveloped me  -  a roof over my head,  food on the table, 2 lovely  children and a husband  who loves and provides for us.  A contented and  warm  feeling came over me.  My thoughts then  strayed  to the families in the low cost apartments/houses I had visited with my kids - those  who were struggling to make a living, whose houses leaked and  were  often flooded by the same torrential rain  that I was enjoying  watching ;  the  countless children of struggling single parents  who had nothing to celebrate about; the children stranded by bickering and abusive parents; the abandoned families which I have seen on the streets.............. and the corners of my eyes became blurred  and a small lump starting rising in my throat.  " Is this what we call 'karma ' or is this because of man's greed ? I couldn't figure it out.  I finished my tea silently and  offered a prayer of gratitude  to GOD for what I have and a prayer for the those who didn't.   

My sisters-in-law, spouses and their family members  came for dinner at our home.  Since I'm the only Hindu in the family and they are  all Catholics, I make it a point to invite them for Deepavali dinner every year. It was a warm and happy occasion with lots of food, jokes and  laughter and family/holiday discussions. For aperitifs, I served  Bailey's Irish Cream for my sisters-in-law  and the men, Scotch .  As was usual, I served  hot thosai and iddly with chicken masala, mango chutney, coriander salsa,  fried chicken,  my  " once in a year mutton varruval " ( dry and spicy mutton ) which I really  cook only once in a year ( it's too time-consuming and tedious ) and  cucumber and pineapple yohurt raita to balance the spiciness.

Desert was traditional cookies like murruku, achi murruku, pineapple tarts, a  sugee cake  and a traditional a rich " whiskeyed " fruit cake  ( there was no brandy   so I sploshed my husband's whiskey in the fruit mix  when he was not around  ).  Hmm, I'm just realising that I didn't make the frienzed variety of cookies, cakes and pies  that I usually do  when I'm on the baking spree........ Geez,  ! Now I understand ...  this was part of the stress build up with my kids !

( Just to digress and  elaborate a little, the hallmark of a good fruit cake is to have the chopped  fruit mix - raisins, sultanas, cherries, apricots, dried figs, nuts,)  soaked/macerated in a cup or so of   brandy for a minimum of 2 weeks and up to a month before it is added to the cake mixture.  The aroma of the fruit mix will fill the whole house and everyone will  know that the festive season has started . The slowly  baked cake is then covered in greaseproof paper and foil and kept in an airtight container to mature for a minimum of a month  and up to 3 or 4 months.   This brings out the  taste and rich  flavour of the cake and you only need a small slice of it to enjoy with a good cup of coffee/tea .  This is how a traditional fruit cake is done.

Those who are prohibited from using alcohol can substitute with fresh orange juice but it cannot keep well and has to be consumed  within a week. )

Everything went well, I guess because they left only at about midnight with containers of my special mutton dish.  ( They had already informed me a week earlier to cook extra and 'ta pau ' { pack } for them )   After clearing all the dishes, wine glasses, plates, cutlery and  what not and putting away the leftovers in tupperwares for consumption the next day (!) ,  I slumped into bed around 1 am.

Not dead tired as I was used to but pleasantly tired this time.  I think I'll do the same next year !

Happy reading and painting


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