A Blast

August 22, 2011

Every Saturday night, Kaushal organizes a movie screening for the society members. This week’s movie was called ‘I am Kalam,’ which was such a wonderful film. I highly, highly recommend it.

I’m not a huge movie person (movies are too long; life’s too short) but this one renewed my appreciate for them. It is one of those movies where you sit with a smile on your face the whole time, and leave feeling like you learned something.

After the movie I spent the night at Venus’ house. There was a brilliant storm that night. Venus and Aishu’s appartment has a wonderful rooftop terrace, with clotheslines for laundry. Venus had wet laundry to hang and so we climbed to the top, despite the wind telling us that it was about to rain. As we ascended in the dark stairwell, the sky flashed lightning. We hung clothes with, I felt a drop, drop, drop, and the sky opened up over Pondicherry. I love the rain here. It reminds me of home, but it is warm and thick, not the nine month gray drizzle of the northwest. The monsoons will be here soon, lasting from October to November.

We let the fat drops give the clothes a second washing. Venus is the only person I know that will hang up laundry during a rainstorm. To run through this rain is to be instantly soaked; it is inescapable. It drags you in, and the only thing visible are the sheets of broken light of the streetlamps below. Dancing through the warm puddles of the tiled rooftop, we celebrated the majestic union before us, where the sky has come to spend time with the sea.

The next morning we got up and went to the market, stopping on the street for a cup of hot chai and then iglis (steamed rice cakes) with spicy chutney. Sunday is shopping day.

We came back from the market and started to make kidney bean dahl, chutney and spiced potatoes for lunch. While Venus was in the bath, I had an interesting altercation in the kitchen. In India they use steam cookers to cook vegetables, rice, and dahl. Venus told me that the cooker would whistle about 5 t0 7 times. Not wanting it to burn, I tried to force the lid off the cooker. Since there was still quite a bit of steam pressure inside, the lid flew off, beans and chilies flying everywhere. I screamed and felt my face and neck on fire, burned by the steam. I ran to the freezer: no ice. Then I noticed a frozen bag of milk and grabbed it (In India milk is sold in plastic bags). Venus emerged from the bath to find dahl everywhere and me quietly sitting at the counter with a pack of old milk held to my face. While she made sure I was ok, we had a good laugh. “I knew I should have told you to not touch the cooker,” she exclaimed. “I didn’t know that you don’t have cookers in America!” With a dismayed giggle I replied, “I’m sorry Venus, I’m an alien, I don’t know how to do anything.” This is true. You get used to it after awhile, but sometimes you get burned.

I am fine now, more traumatized than anything. Ice for a few hours works wonders. Venus made me a sandalwood paste that I let dry on my face. More than 24 hours later, the burns are slightly visible but do not hurt at all.

Lunch was delicious, by the way.

Soothing sandalwood

  • Raw mango chutney with yogurt, chilies, and loads of fresh mint
  • Potatoes with turmeric, chili powder, coriander

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