This story happens during a time when even the mention of words such as ‘twitter’, ‘orkut’ or ‘SMS’ would have been misunderstood for the scientific names of various flora and fauna. The plot revolves around the “age of love letters”, a popular medium among the ‘then’ youth, a storyline which could be totally strange to the present generation. Maybe it’s something they might have only seen in movies directed by Sathyan Anthicaud.
The youth of the ‘80s were, more equipped with linguistic and literary skills than their present counterparts. Video games, Playstations, DVDs and mobile phones would have numbed their senses. Gone are the days, when you find a lean flirtatious youngster in bell-bottom pants with ‘hippy’ hair style, lingering around bus stops waiting to give his ‘heart’ covered in an envelope to his dream lady.
Coming back to the story! Let me introduce our heroine. Her name is Elina, the tenth daughter of her already aging parents (This numerical figure might sound strange to the current society of nuclear families). Her beauty, youth and energy was at its peak as she was on the verge of crossing her adolescence and entering early adulthood. For many a marriage-broker, she has already become the ‘apple-of-the eye’.
One fine day, a marriage proposal came to her family. “The guy is a bank employee by profession. Flawless character and from a good family too! A perfect match for our Elina”, said the broker. However, Elina was not interested at all. She knew that, the character of the guy was not that flawless. Seeing his photo, she was able to recognize him, the same old flirtatious teenager, who was a regular supplier of love letters to two of her friends, while at school.
She remembered that, he had a six-month-love-letter-stint with one of her friends, till she got married. Then immediately he switched over to the next friend and enjoyed another six months of ‘postal delight’. “Flawless character indeed” !, said Elina in her mind, referring to the broker’s exaggerated statements.
“I don’t want this proposal”, said an emotional Elina to her parents and other family members, who were already mesmerized by the guy’s qualities as described by the broker. The agitated family members replied: “Who is bothered about your interests ? We are impressed with the guy’s profession, character and family background. We have fixed everything and this Sunday, he along with his family will be visiting us to see you and schedule the marriage proceedings”. When Elina pointed out the ‘letter-writing skills’ of the guy, substantiating it with sufficient examples, her aged mother replied- “That is not a sin considering his age and maturity then. After all, he is a man”.
Eventually, she had to succumb to the pressure from elders. Alas ! What could a soft hearted teenaged girl do, when all family members oppose her in one voice ? Suppressing all her agony, she decided to seek one of her brother’s help, with whom she shared a very close relationship. “I will not dress up like a bride and go stand in front of that flirt and his family. I would rather jump into the well and commit suicide”, wailed Elina as she burst into tears in front of her most loving brother. But all her tears were short-lived when she found that her brother was more than willing to help her out and he had other ideas to cancel this marriage proposal. “Let them visit us this Sunday. I will not allow anybody whom you dislike, to marry you. For the time being, just cooperate with the family, for the PENNU KAANAL CHADANGU. Don’t be an obstacle to the great confectionery feast, which is going to take place in our house this Sunday. I will prey on all sweets then”, said the brother, sending a weeping Elina, into peals of laughter and joy.
Finally, ‘D-Day’ arrived ! The guy and his family reached Elina’s home in the morning. He brought two cars full of relatives, comprised of his parents, sisters, brothers and their wives and kids. They added upto around 50 to 60 people. Needless to mention, Elina’s family too was not short of people (as she is the tenth daughter of her parents). They warmly welcomed the guy’s family. Soon the drawing room was filled with the aged members of both families discussing politics, films and spirituality. The female army, invaded the dining hall and kitchen engaging themselves in gossiping and scanning each others’ attire and jewellery. As Elina’s brother expected, all tea poys and tables were soon full of plates carrying all kinds of sweets and confectionery items one could imagine of. Everybody were having a good time eating, drinking, gossiping and laughing.
Then came the real CHADANGU ! A tensed Elina came to the scene, neatly dressed up for the occasion. She served eatables to the guy and his family, who were all scanning her every move with their eyes and either passing comments on her or giggling. The guy presented a ‘happy face’in the scene. He was all smiles, seeing Elina and blushing at the comments passed on him and his future-wife by his family. He was savouring the moment.
Then came the twist in the tale ! The moment which turned the pleasant atmosphere, ‘topsy-turvy’. As expected by the readers, nothing was initiated by Elina or her brother who promised to help her. Ask who ? It was Elina’s aged mother who fired the first salvo in front of the huge gathering as she said to the guy in her self styled emotionless and fearless approach, with prank-filled eyes- “My son ! You are handsome indeed and has got a good job too. You are well qualified to marry my daughter. But she has said that you had a love-letter-relationship with two of her friends in your teenage”.
The guy and his family were sitting dumbstruck hearing these words. Even Elina was taken by surprise, as her mother continued in the atmosphere which was already growing tense- “So after marriage, please restrict your letter writing skills to my daughter alone”. Agreed” ?!
The guy looked as if he was struck by some thunderbolt. In the peak of his emotions he had squeezed the half eaten laddu in his hand. The other half got stuck in his throat, as he started coughing violently adding drama and comedy to the scene. A psychologist would say that, as humans grow old, they lose their sensitivity to the external environment and act and speak accordingly. Elina’s aged mother who had already done enough damage to the happy environment, added more as she continued in a consoling tone, patting the guy on his shoulder- “Such things happen in everyone’s youthful days, my child” ! The guy nodded his head. He was perplexed and his family members were shamed. They soon left the scene, although they ended the visit on a happy note of friendship and willingness to proceed with the marriage proposal.
God has done His part in saving Elina from this proposal in the form of her mother’s comments. Now it was time for her brother to make his entry into the scene. After a few days, he presented a cooked-up story to his father and other relatives, that he conducted a detailed inquiry about Elina’s would-be and he had come across some stunning facts about him.
“He had been suffering from tics since childhood. In his social circle, he has several nicknames based on the same. In fact he is known after that”, said the brother. Elina’s father was stunned: “How can that be ? I cant believe it. Nobody in their family have tics, at least to my knowledge”. The young man replied fearlessly reflecting his mother’s talents- “I don’t know about his family history. But whatever I say is true. We got a clear picture of his character earlier itself, when that love-letter-incident was revealed. Now this fact too has come out. God knows, what all unpleasant secrets are yet to come. Elina is your daughter and beyond that she is my beloved sister. I cannot personally agree to this marriage proposal. Now it is for you to decide, Dad”.
All the family members including the father were taken aback by surprise seeing the courage of their son and hearing his words. All then started looking at anxiously at dad’s face for a reply. After all, he is the head of the family. Elina closed her eyes and prayed. Everything is in dad’s hands now. After thinking for a while, the intelligent old man replied- “I have decided that I will not give Elina to that guy” !!!
Elina and her brother jumped of joy. Other family members including mother, immediately raised a hue and cry. But what is the use ? The head of the family has taken the decision already. Besides, a good majority in the family came forward to support father’s decision, making the cancellation of the marriage proposal easy.
The incident later became a tale full of humour and suspense to be remembered for Elina and her family, forever.

Contributed by: Unni, Saji
Cartoon by: Josey (http://www.krepesh.com/)


Ramsan Wishes (SMStyle)

May the festival of lights brighten up you
and your near and dear ones lives.
May this Ramadan bring you the
utmost in peace and prosperity.
May lights triumph over darkness.
May peace transcend the earth.
May the spirit of light illuminate the world.
May the light that we celebrate at Ramadan
show us the way and lead us together on the
path of peace and social harmony
Wish you a very happy Ramadan Mubarak

പലഹാരത്തിന്റെ കാവല്ക്കാരി

ഇപ്പോള്എവിടെ നോക്കിയാലും സെക്യുരിറ്റികാരുടെ മേളമാണ്‍.ഫളാറ്റിലും ഷോപ്പിംഗ് മാളും.......അങ്ങനെ കാവല്ക്കാരെ തടഞ്ഞിട്ട് നടക്കാന്മേലാത്ത അവസഥയാണ്എവിടെയും.പക്ഷെ പലഹാരത്തിനും ഒരു കാവല്ക്കാരിയോ..........
ഞങ്ങളുടെ വീട്ടിലെ ലെ എല്ലാ ആഴ്ചയിലെത്തെ shopping list ലെ പ്രധാനിയാണ്‍,”Betty Crocker’s Cookie Mix”.വളരെ രുചിയാണ്‍.അതുകാരണം oven ചൂടാറുന്നതിനു മുന്പ് തന്നെ സാധനം തീരും.India യുടെ പുറത്ത് ഒരു കുഴപ്പമുണ്ട്.കടകളിലൊക്കെ അവരുടേതായ വിലയാണ്‍,( ഇവിടത്തെപോലെ MRP ഇല്ല).....എന്തു കൊണ്ടാണറിയില്ല, എല്ലാ ആഴ്ചയും അതിന്റെ വില്‍ +1 കൂട്ടിയിട്ടുണ്ടാവും.എന്നാല്ഒരുമിച്ച് 2 പാക്കറ്റ് മേടിക്കാമെന്നുവെച്ചാല്‍ 2 യും ഒരുമിച്ച് തീരും.അങ്ങനെ കുട്ടികള്‍ school വിട്ടു വരുന്നതോടെ ഞാന് cookies ന്റെ കാവല്ക്കാരിയായി മാറും......ആര്എത്ര തിന്നു, എപ്പോ തിന്നു ....... വക കണക്കെടുപ്പായിട്ട്......അതൊക്കെ ഒരു തലവേദന യായതോടെ .....google ല്‍ recipe തപ്പലായി അടുത്ത പണി.പലതും try ചെയ്യതെങ്കിലും ഒന്നും betty യത്ര പറ്റിയില്ല. അവസാനം ഒരു recipe കിട്ടി.....betty യുടെ taste ല്‍......ഹാവൂ......ഞാന്അങ്ങനെ കാവല്ക്കാരി ജോലിയില്നിന്നും തലയൂരി.
അടുത്ത വില്ലനായിട്ട് വീട്ടിലെത്തിയ പലഹാരം മുറുക്ക് യാണ്‍.മുറുക്ക് കിട്ടുന്ന കട ദൂരെയായതിനാലാണ്‍.വല്ലപ്പോഴാണ് area യിലേക്ക് പോവുക.പോകുബോള്‍ 3-4 പായ്ക്ക്റ്റ് മേടിക്കുമെങ്കിലും അതിനും ആയുസ്സ് അധികമില്ല.
എന്നാല്മുറുക്ക് വീട്ടിലുണ്ടാക്കാം യെന്ന  ideaയില്പതിവുപോലെ google തപ്പിയപ്പഴാണ്‍ Lakeshmi (kairali T.V) യുടെ recipe കണ്ടത്.ലക്ഷമി പറഞ്ഞതുപോലെ വെളിച്ചെണ്ണയും സംഘടിപ്പിച്ചു.പക്ഷെ അച്ച് എന്നെ ചതിച്ചു.എന്തു ചെയ്യതിട്ടും അച്ചില്കൂടി ഉണ്ടാക്കാനായിട്ട് പറ്റിയില്ല.അതുകാരണം പലഹാരത്തിന്റെ കാവല്കാരി ജോലി ഞാന്തുടരുന്നു.ഒരു വീട്ടമ്മയുടെ സാധാരണ ജോലികളുടെ list ന്റെ കൂടെ കാവല്ക്കാരി ജോലിയും നടത്തുന്നു ഞാന്‍!

Chicken Manchurian

Boneless Chicken : 1/2 kg
Flour : 1 tbsp
Egg : 1
Salt : to taste
Pepper : to taste

Finely chopped Ginger : 1 tbsp
Finely chopped garlic : 1 tbsp
Finely chopped green chilli : 1 tbsp
Soya sauce : 1 tbsp
Chicken stock : 1 cup
Ajinomoto : 1/4 tsp
Cornflour : 2 tbsp mixed in 1/2 cup water
Oil : to fry 

Cut chicken into inch square pieces. Mix flour, egg, salt & pepper. Add chicken. 
Deep fry chicken and set aside. 

For the manchurian sauce, fry garlic, ginger and green chillies till they change colour. 
Add chicken stock, soya sauce, ajinomoto and cook for two minutes. Add cornflour mixtures to thicken the gravy. Add fried chicken pieces and cook for two more minutes. 
Serve hot. 

Contributed by: Mekha Jobin