the meaning of home

IMG_0476-1
My grandmother’s domain – the gas burner and the sugar tin, shared with Maharaj.

I had the idea for this post for a while, and almost abandoned it in the rush of returning to life, school, work, grocery shopping, etc. in Los Angeles. But in my important business of scrolling through Tumblr, I stumbled upon some words from the pop culture icons that high-school educated dramatics love to quote in an effort to seem cultured: Fitzgerald. He said this:

‘It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed, is you.’ — F. Scott Fitzgerald

Home to me is the Bay Area, with my nuclear family, but it is also the Indian and Marathi culture in which I grew up, and struggled with for many years. Therefore, home in a different way is the land to which my parents are inextricably tied, that I visited many times as a small, impressionable Shalaka; home is that place where I made countless really positive and really negative memories. It is the flat in Dadar, Hindu Colony (Mumbai) that belonged to my late grandparents since 1950, with its crumbling walls and third floor balcony locked by an actual iron lock that hangs, and Maharaj who has come every morning at 7:15 sharp to make a day’s worth of chapati for more than 20 years.Read More »

I googled egg puns but nothing cracked me up

IMG_0492I mentioned in a previous post that I am Marathi. This means most of my family cooks and eats vegetarian food not sold in Indian restaurants, speaks the language that is concentrated in the state of Mahrashtra, is frugal, precise, and does well in school.

We’re basically the kind of Indian known for being sticks-in-mud, but with hazel eyes (THAT I DIDN’T EVEN GET, THANKS MOM)

Of course, I’m kidding, and not trying to offend or distance myself from my cultural roots. That being said, I don’t think any of my Marathi relatives would have taken me for lunch at the hole-in-the-wall restaurant that I visited last week . It has been across the street from my grandparents’ home for over 50 years since they first moved in, but I may be the first from my family to step foot inside.

And guys, it was so. freaking. good.

Read More »

Spherical sweet things make the world go round

IMG_0243-1I had a lot of trouble writing that title, because my college student mind could not get around the fact that I wanted to say all my favorite desserts in the past week have been sweet balls. Sorry to everyone past the age of (me) that is reading this.

Been spending the past few days in Parle, a majority – Marathi area in Mumbai [the artist formerly known as Bombay]. (For the uninitiated, Marathi is the type of Indian I am + the language I fail to speak with my family)

Parle is also home to the biscuit factory known by brown kids around the world for producing that ubiquitous lightly-sweetened ‘glucose biscuit’: Parle G.

According to Wikipedia, it is the largest selling brand of biscuits (read: crackers) in the world. That makes sense, because Indian people can’t go a day without chai (stereotype based in truth) and chai cannot be had without Parle G, since production began in 1939.

I’m not going to say I digress because I think that’s the whole point of this whole shindig: to digress.

But I digress.

So I’ve been staying with my aunt and uncle in Parle, and utilizing my beloved-niece-returned-to-India status by requesting all of the sweet things I can of my culinarily-gifted aunt. This lady also has a degree in library science, a 30 year career in managing portfolios, the same hands as my grandma, and a general reputation as badass in residence.

She was somewhat disappointed by the simplicity of the food I requested, but of course we set about making it anyways: besan laddus.

Read More »