Sunday, May 10, 2009
Unconventionally daring or plain ole treachery.
The so called Indo American cuisine offered by the upscale,ubercool INDIKA in Houston, with a desi looking swirl on top of the I is just that.
And definitely not the 'you will either- hate it or- love it' cliche will be judicial enough to label it. Its somewhere in between them. You end up loving and hating it at the same time and precisely for unequivocally similar reasons. Indika challenges our preconcieved notions of what is India and if not anything its dangerously daring at it.
Proudly spotted at one of the most expensive areas in the city, Indika has a sleek, soft lighted ambience which is delightfully fussy. And just maybe, you need reservations on weekends, but well we managed to get in without one. It gives you the mirage of a crowded busy place, all thanks to probably the so engineered acoustics.And thanks to that, you will many a times hear guffaws as roaring laughter.As long as its not a shriek or a cry, I am guessing you dont have to worry. Dont forget to dress for the part. In our city hopping formals, we definitely looked very much the part of under dressed Gandhi followers, well not literally..
I must confess, that the chef whoever it is has real imagination to conjure up the ecelectic menu which sorta look like Indo American fusion with a British twang. Take a look at the menu and you will get the picture. But dont be intimidated by it-Its a place with sophisticated food, but surprisingly with no whiff of daunting arrogance with it. The staff is not condescending and actually listens and offers suggestions and answers your queries patiently. The menu is more coherent, more of a piece. It doesn't take ethnic sides. But it fairly consistently mines a middle ground between Indian new American, timeless recipes of India carefully represented with the sassy touch of American cuisine.And Im supposing the menu changes with seasons to be included with more delightful varities of fusion recipes.
We tried on the tandoori chicken chaat salad, which was kind of interesting though I didnt really fancy the tandoor part of it. It was cold yet inspiring enough. The appetizers looks as if they can be ordered as entrees and I guess its your choice on whether to or not.For the main entree, both of us shared 'Local free range chicken in a coconut, cardamom and white pepper curry, sauteed greens, brown basmati khichri' with complimentary sides of dal and raita. The chicken was a disappointment for me, but Sibz liked it.So I am guessing its a matter of sensitivity to certain tastes. But what blowed me off was the sauce/curry and the greens. It was bare minimum to tickle your tastebuds,but surely it was one of the most wonderful sensations of gustatory heaven I have had in a long time.
We rounded it off with 'Spiced guava, coconut and mango sorbet' as dessert and was definitely a savory reward befitting its precedents. It completely was an explosion of spices which is quite unlikely for a dessert. I have never fancied spicy desserts, if such a thing exist-but boy, this sorbet was something out of the world. It was succulence of mango,tenderness of coconut and sublime softness of guava heavily laced with sweet,sour and tangy. I have no clue on how the chef managed such a feat, but Im guessing it also owes to the blueberry pickle sauce he gave on side. I mean ,who gives pickle sauce with a dessert?The dessert was not something you go ooh lala from the start. You are heavily scpetical with the first dole and slowly yet firmly the taste grows within you and you are glad that you experimented.
The dishes, individually and all together, strive for a quality that might well be called wholesomeness and we were just the right amount of 'full' without feeling queasy or sick about it.They also offer variety of teas which we decided to try next time. The prices are quite on the higher side which Im sure is not for the food, but for the place. But, it can very well be those once in six months type of restaurent where you can go when you feel rebellious and wanna do something different mode.They call themselves 'progressive Indian with local ingredients' and well, I will probably fullheartedly agree with the progressive part.I wont say, its one of the bestest I have ever been-but its definitely worth a try.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Disclaimer:Before you confuse the picture with me, please read on below.I am perfectly fine!Please dont go tell my mom, Im suicidal
I got a mail couple of days back.
My mother passed away. I learnt computers."
Prayers and love,
It was one of those mails which shake you out from the dreary mundane life.The ones which disturb you for days until you cannot hold it within yourself anymore.
E was one of my clients whom I used to work with in the mental health day care where I worked during my field work days in college. E was brilliant, capable and ran almost most of the errands of the day care. E could brighten up anyones day with his easy charm and spontaneous wit.
But some days E goes into dull anger and gloominess which would affect each and everyone of us around. He was a sweetheart to all of us. And it was not easy for a normal eye to detect that E had bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is also known as manic depression which is a kind of mood disorder which alternates between abnormally elevated moods and severe depression. Sounds familiar?? Yeah!!Normal is not so different from abnormal.
On his days of insane happiness, he would drag each one of us into a waltz or sing aloud old English country songs. He was a treasure trove of anecdotes and humor tidbits. When he drowns into the gloomy depression, he would sit alone disturbing no one in his own world painting his minds woes into abstracts.
Each student got assigned cases and E was mine. And I was totally happy about it. He was as perfect a patient you could ever get.He listened to me, he would even enquire about my home sickness,pat me on the shoulder when I get tired with an encouraging nod. He was my sanity anchor in an insane world. In the world of psychiatry, there is a term called 'transference'.According to wikipedia, Transference is a phenomenon in psychoanalysis characterized by unconscious redirection of feelings for one person to another. You see it often in movies, where the patient substitutes the doctor or the counselor as a father figure or lover or emotional anchor. In our case, we were under mututal transference. A relationship with no definition. We just knew, we were there for each other. It is a professional NO NO. You are not supposed to emotionally get involved with a client.It offends the very core of counseling mantras.But sometimes, when you cross the boundaries, you are rewarded with something extremely special. That was what the friendship I enjoyed with E.
I never really knew how old E was. Sometimes he was a hyper active 30 year old. Sometimes he was the all wise 50. All I know, is his real age was something between the two. One of the best parts being in a mental health institution- Nobody really cares about age. When you are stuck in time forever, what is the significance of it? Those trivial pursuits are for us- the more insane ones who are stuck in perpetual rat races.
So when my supervisor told me I need to go to E s house to meet his guardian, I was super enthused. I had always wanted to see E 's mother who was his guardian. The rest of the patients always have someone or the other coming to the day care for days of celebration or enquiring about their general well being. I have never seen anyone of E's coming for that. Not that he needed any moral boosting enquiries. But still, I was concerned. Deep down in my heart, I had prepared for a confrontation-to shake out the hard hearted to see the soft side.Most often, its extremely difficult for the family of a mentally ill person. Especially when they stay with you. You need to treat them as an equal but at the same time take care of them. If you ask me, thats the worst fate any family can endure. Seeing one of their own teetering in the brink of insane worlds.Sometimes you lose your temper knowing you are helpless. We sneer at the evil sister or mother who have to take care of a 'crazy' person in the movies and do a pathetic job of it. But to endure it day in-day out, without losing your own mind is a near never feat.
But I was still naive and movies have colored my perceptions of reality and I lived in a world of stereotypes. When I knocked E's door, I was expecting the cruel witch version of a mother and sister who couldnt take care of their baby son/brother. And that day, I learned to be free of prejudices. Though that is the first lesson a counselor is taught in class, it was the first day I would embrace it and seal it in my soul. She is fragile- Thats the first thought which crossed my mind. E's mother looked as ancient as it can get. A withered frame with a lifeless body which was held together by an enormously spirited mind. She offered me water. But I couldnt bear to see her limp into the kitchen just to get water for me, I ran ahead into a strangers kitchen and helped myself. I couldnt look up without staring in awe. She was almost in her mid eighties. But she got up every morning, made break fast and lunch for E and his less neurotic but more than firece sister, packed it and send them off for day care and work place, clean the house, and do a whole lot of things. E 's sister also has a slight distrubance of the mind, but she is capable of teaching at a primary school. E has another brother who stays in Australia with his family and would take his mother also to be with them in Australia, but only if she would leave E and his sister behind. And she chose her insane offsprings over her capable son.
I went there to chide her into coming more often to the day care and taking care of E. And I left there with no sense of pride for going in for that. The mother was a living Goddess. Ofcourse, you can argue she is their mother and she is supposed to be like that. But----how much a human being can endure??She was left alone when her husband died in the early days of their marriage. She raised all the three kids alone and is supposrting them with the meagre pension she receives.
And for the first time, I could make sense of E's recurring suicidal inclination. In the deep recesses of his cluttered mind, he realizes his mother might die any time soon. And the day that happens, he is alone in this world with no one to care.
It had been 3 years now, since I left that house. And now, the inevitable has happened. I fear for E. He was not happy that I went to his home and stopped talking to me that day. And this si the first time, I recieved some kind of information about him after I left the day care. Maybe someone else sent it in behalf of him. I kept toying it in my mind picturing different possibilities in my mind- trying to zero in on the rosier one.
But I know for sure what is going to happen-And like a brute, I am sitting here waiting it to happen-trying to forget everything. Maybe shedding some tears, but ultimately moving on.
Yeah, such is life!!!
But if it is, its bloody unfair!
Tell me if there s another way!!