Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Once Upon a Time

Have you read my post on celebrations of Manipur, and that Manipur is full of festivals and celebrations. Let me write some of it again, from the mind, right off the fingers.

I will start by telling you a story, a story that will result in the birth of a Happy go lucky, almost always smiling boy child, who brought magic to a family in a place called Imphal in Manipur. It was maybe a million years ago, you see I have stopped counting my age, since …18, I guess. So about 20 years before I was actually 18, one naughty tadpole met a passionate egg, and I was conceived.

Before that I will tell you the story of the parents. I don’t know much about the romance between the father and the mother, only that it was a romance between a very handsome man ( he still is) and a very pretty young girl ( she still is sweet). They had to marry in a hurry, because the guy was afraid, that the girl wouldn’t wait (my theory) because he was still in college. He was still in the university when I was born. So after a courtship for, I don’t know how many years, they married against the wishes of both parents and thus had to undergo certain hardships like in the movies. They got married, and years later..........

.......well, how many of you have ever lived the moment when you were actually conceived? before you were actually born. I have, well almost.

I have this NASTY habit of peeking, call me a peeping Tom into other people’s private property like diaries, and with technological advances, gradually graduating to inboxes, sms, and camera phones gallery of late etc etc.

And it so happened that, one fine day, it was a summer holiday I guess, I was browsing through old books and diary in our attic when I came across a diary which was from a year prior to my birth. It belonged to my father. Curiosity didn’t even had a chance to get over me, I just opened it. And it was quite nice to read the short entries by my father, it had some budgets also, and he wrote letters to my Mom since he was still studying and then how elated he was when he came for a holiday.

And the thunderbolt struck.
One entry reads,
“Yesterday my child was conceived” (or something to that effect)

And some other things related to that. But I couldn’t read further. It was about 9 months before my birthday. There, I was reading something from the past, something about me before I was even born. But I was glad that it was documented to that detail, thank god my father is a zoologist, and knew the cycles very well.
Today, of course, we have Google.

And so I was conceived.

I didn’t know that I was born pre-mature by a few days until a few months back when my mom told me while talking about my childhood. They were here to meet me during the new year. But thank god that I was born a little pre-mature and my mom had to go through lesser days of the burden of carrying an XXL kid.

Oh yes, I was one of those 4 Kilo plus at birth bouncy babies. That I have known for long *smiles*, what pained me was that I was a bloody sucker as a foetus. My mom didn’t tell me that but I knew. She told me that all the doctors were worried about her while she was carrying me because she weigh only 38 Kilos. 38 Kgs , that is 83.6 pounds and she was only a baby, my mom. She was the youngest of 3 sisters well pampered and was 23 when I was born. Imagine a 38 kilo girl , carrying a 4 kilo heavy baby. If I wasn’t born pre-mature, I can’t imagine the pain she might have gone through. And apparently her weight gained very well once I was born, so all her nutrients were being sucked by me. Selfish me! And I am glad she told me the story. Of, how I was born, and Oh BTW it was on a 9th of February.

I have come a long way since then.
I was quite a celebrity then.
First born of my generation in the clan.
The Maharajkumar types.
And, my grandfather returned home from her Mistresses’, where he was spending more time than with the family, after I was born.
That made me extra special, to everyone around.

And since Amar Akbar Anthony had been running for 2 years in a row, and since my father was better known as the-guy-who-looks-like-Amitabh, I was promptly named Anthony by the thousand of aunts as a harmless joke on my father and the name stuck.[My post on how I was named ]

A Manipuri child has his/her first birthday on the fifth day of birth, called the Swasti puja when Kheer is served to the guest. Lots of other snacks are also served but the Kheer is very important for the ceremony as I blogged here.

The next ceremony being the one where I was fed with the first solid food, and story runs in the family, that though a child on his/her first day only eats a tiny-weeny bit, I had one Katora ( small bowl) of Kheer, yet again. [ Read my kheer recipe here, lol] My sweet tooth is older than my teeth.

After that I have had several ceremonies, endless Feasts, the head's been clean shaven at least 5 times, and have missed as much since I was in the hostel all my life.

Let me tell you about the feasts of Manipur. We have these grand feasts called utsov every so often that even my parents have stopped telling me now. And whenever I get a call from the home phone and not from the cell phones during the day, I know for sure that my parents are home for a feast. And that happens quite often.

Usually we have feasts on the death anniversary of ancestors, back from how many generations I don’t know, and since we go back many generations, there is a feast every so often, and don’t forget that we get invited to these feasts. So our life revolves round this feasts, and most Brahmins make a living out of cooking, and good cooks have to booked well in advance.

And these feasts aren’t small affairs, and are cooked by Brahmins only. There are at least 20 dishes/courses, and only more ( the more the merrier, and it’s a matter of prestige also) and it is not a Buffet, everybody sits in endless rows and are served at the same time by an army of the cooks whose mouths are covered with pure cloth less the food don’t get polluted with an accidental spit. [ I will be cooking all the dishes in my cook blog]

Everybody should start at the same time and you can’t just get up until the eldest announces so. Quite romantic, though very boring. It is like the pictures on the Mahabharat comic series. Not to mention, I usually have my food taken in inside the house.

And, oh, these feasts are held in Mandaps. We have one too lol, like many people. As kids, we used it as a shaded playground during the summer when it is not used for a feast or a ceremony.

During the Rath Yatra, the feast carry on for 10 days. I am sure some of the food don’t mix well and might cause nasty reactions inside the tummy. But the Manipuri Brahmin cooks are damn good cooks.

Most of these feasts are vegetarians, which is why I said 'boring'. Fish is served only on some feasts, like house warming (yes, we have feast on house warming too), ear- piercing ceremony of a kid ( Yes, My ear is pierced as is the tradition though the rings have long gone before I had my first kiss) , and the fifth day feast ( or Mangani Chakouba), when the bride’s family invite their daughter and the groom for a Grand feast on the fifth day of the marriage. This is a big event, and the ladies in traditional attire are a sight, which is a bigger feast for the eye than the feast.

The guys of course look Boring, we don’t have much choice when we have to wear traditional dresses, do we? Ladies do have an upper hand, talk about equality.

And to sum up the log post, thousands of birthdays later, I have yet another one this year. Not to mention that it is not to be counted. Don't wish me yet!!!
{ Bad joke}

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Anonymous Vijay Krishna said...

May I be the first. Advance birthday wishes.

7/2/06 8:04 PM  
Blogger visithra said...

cheeky tony peeking into daddys diary ;) nice post ;) very sweet

the feasts ill pass too much of a ood thing is boring ;)

7/2/06 8:13 PM  
Blogger Khizzy said...

oh so are u showing off now about how regal ur childhoods been...huh...huh!

its sounds very cool, and loaded with tradition and culture.

7/2/06 8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anthony said...

@ VK: thanks a lot friend. Hope you will come back on 9th lol.

@ Visithra: I stil haven't stopped lol, but it was a great shocker.

@ Khizzy: Not Regal..like urs, but yeah they did pampered me before packing me off to boarding school at 10. Not that i complain.. It was the best days of my life... Because a boy child gets some real pampering onloy upto 10, lol.

7/2/06 9:51 PM  
Blogger silverine said...

Many Happy Returns of the Day Anthony!!!
This is such an interesting narrative interspersed with trivia. Wow you guys live life kingsize what with all those feasts etc. No wonder you have a cook blog!!!
We too have the houswarming, Bride coming home etc ceremonies.
Lovely post. I am a regular visitor to your cook blog though I may not comment. Keep writing. You have a unique style.

7/2/06 10:42 PM  
Anonymous Sanity Starved said...

Lovely post. February 9th, eh? Don't blame me if I forget on that day! Your fault since you should have posted it like a day in advance, and not days!

8/2/06 7:09 AM  
Blogger Casablanca said...

What a nice post to read! Especially about your parents and their courtship days etc... must be so poetic listening/reading about it.

And will be back tomorrow to wish you for your birthday :)

8/2/06 8:38 AM  
Blogger sailu said...

That made a very nice read,Anthony.So someone's been doing a lotta peeking..*wink*

8/2/06 3:29 PM  
Blogger anthony said...

@ Silverine, Thanks dear, and i do know you are always at the other blog. I read ur blog off bloglines, so i don't get to comment as often.. Workload got a bit more since i moved into product development.
and thanks for the encouraging words...

@SS: Don't you dare forget.. *smiles*

@ Casa: didn't get to listen much, i motly read,,, hahaha even the love letters of those days they kept hidden. and thx in advance

@ sailu: yeah, i have this curious habit.. there was a movie too where the guy remmebers his shildhood teacher canning him whenever he wants to open a letter or diary... I gues it was the one with soha ali khan and ayesa takia

8/2/06 4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

many many happy returns of the day


9/2/06 5:08 AM  
Blogger Casablanca said...

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to Anthony
Happy birthday to you

Now, can we have the cake sent over please? :D

9/2/06 7:35 AM  
Anonymous Anthony said...

Thank you so much Casa: The cakes are due... Thats a promise.

9/2/06 10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anthony said...

Do keep it in the savings account with an intrest of your choice.. Not too much above the LIBOR though .. and it will not be securitised.

9/2/06 10:26 AM  
Blogger Kusum Rohra said...

hhmm very informative post, even we have a zillion festivities realating to everyother thing possible, but i dont know abt the celebrations when i was born ... hhmmm that means i will have to go and ask ma and pa today and there better be lots of things they have to tell me or else heheh!

i have been wanting to frequent your cook blog, you know i find this whole bachelors cooking thing kind of cool, maybe its because at out place men never cook :)

And lastly i think i already wished you but wht the heck, how many people can turn 18 every year huh!! So Happy birthday to you once again :)

9/2/06 12:06 PM  
Anonymous tony said...

Thank you once again Kusum
@ Suresh: Thank you very much sir.

9/2/06 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Hiren Shah said...

You seem to have had quite a feast.

Your naming reminds me of something. A cousin sheetal was also named after Hema Malini in Andaaz. Life follows art as they say.

9/2/06 5:01 PM  
Blogger anthony said...

@ Hiren I did. lol.. thats very nice Life does follow art

9/2/06 7:13 PM  
Blogger rokh said...

happy birthday anthony! and wonderful story too

10/2/06 2:33 AM  
Anonymous tony said...

@ Rokh: Thank you very much...

10/2/06 11:59 AM  
Blogger Priya said...

i just somehow missed to wish u on ur birthday, Belated wishes !
i can imagine ur mom suffering with pain when she was carrying a u.. ;) it was fun reading ur birthday posT.

14/2/06 2:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anthony, I want to tell you how much I enjoyed going through your blog. It have been wanting to buy a place of my own in Delhi and have been dismayed at the prices and the pigeon holes that fall within my budget in the city and anything decent is situated in the wilderness of Gurgoan and beyond Greater NOIDA, and as a person who works in Delhi I would have to spend hours on the road in snarling traffic and toxic fumes. They are building all these great looking structures, and now the news of Delhi shooting skywards - do people know Delhi is on a fault line? How many of these structures are earthquake prooof? The builders will talk of italian marble flooring, jacuzzi, teak wood finish and stuff like this but do not mention the basic necessity - how earthquake proof is the building. Where is the water going to come from. Water tables are falling by the metre every month in Gurgoan. The state government has spent a pittance on infrastructure. The builders dig their own tubewells and the water table has been falling. Five years from now there will be no water in the place, unless it is brought from somewhere....
I went on the net, trying to make sense of the madness of shooting prices, and to see where they are headed when I came across your blog. I spent considerable time reading all the posts. Including the Birthday one! A belated happy birthday.
Second, I want to tell you that by mistake I clicked on the 'blog flagged button'. I am new to this blogging business and thought it was a way I could save the page to read it later. But to my horror I found that this action means that I found objectionable content. There was no objectionable content, on the contrary, it was the first blog of substance that I came across. I do not want you to get the wrong impression and therefore I am writing this mail to you.
Keep at it Anthony. You are doing a wonderful job and do keep updating the property section. It is by far the best space for discussion and sharing information that I have seen on the subject. I will be visiting it again.

16/3/07 10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy birthday..my birthday also on 9th feb

21/1/10 4:06 PM  

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