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Sunday, March 29, 2020

COVID19


About after two months of losing the dearest person of my life, Deuta(Dad), I try to stand up on my feet again, collecting bits and pieces, resuming life back to normalcy, at the same time the reality hit hard, not just for me but for the entire world by the pandemic called COVI19. In front of my eyes, the world has changed, what we never imagined in our wildest dream and what the generations had never seen happening, what was normal a few days back, became extinct from our lives. For our health's safety, we quarantined ourselves in our homes, kids' schools closed, online classes started, malls, cinema halls everything got closed. The bustling places turn into barren, and the places entitled by humans got emptied and became the new normal of our lives. The new normal brought uncertainty and tension in every nook and corner. Health hygiene became people's foremost priority rather than luxury travel or any other thing in life.
My life or days on my toes slowed down. Life gave me a break from running after kids from one activity to another after so many years. Sipping a cup of tea in leisurely.,the house looks cleaner and more organized. As the expert says, the virus can alive on the surface for several hours to several days, and now wiping out kitchen slabs or cabinets became my new hobby.
There are worries like economic meltdown, soon recession will be on our doorsteps, small businesses will be closed, minimum wage workers will lose their jobs, yet we want is to be alive and protect and save our kids from every possible exposer of the virus. Now with limited grocery items in the household, no fancy instaworthy meal has been prepared at our homes. We learned to live within the means.  My 11 years old already figured that out, as he is fine with having whatever is available.  We have stocked up essential, yet don't know how long it will continue or how long we will survive with it.
My whats up messenger is bombarded with messages. Experts keep pouring their opinions, photos. There is even competition, like media, on who can share the information first. A thousand messages hit our minds and phones. The heartfelt pictures from Italy, patients' coffin carrying trucks brought tears to my eyes, ah those heartfelt messages from the patients from the hospitals. The heart filled with gratitude for those medical professionals for their relentless efforts and risking their own lives for saving other people's life. Those online grocery carriers, mailman delivering things on time.
Amid this all, people started caring about each other, asking and wondering about each other's well being, as if after many years people took a pause from their fast-paced-busy lives and started to think beyond just their own well being. I choked up seeing several messages and calls from family members, my old college teachers, and old friends. Social distancing brought hearts closer.
No denial that the tension is still with the number of deaths taking a toll. There is hope, heal and prayers for the coming tomorrow.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Komal Saul or Soft Rice - An easy Assamese culinary delight

                                       
Komal Saul prior SoakingKomal Saul takes me to my grandparent's home to the early childhood days when we stayed in a different city and visited my grandparent's ancestorial home, my grandmother often delightfully prepares a morning breakfast in a jiffy. The breakfast is called Komal saul or soft rice. A luscious, slightly golden color and light glossy textured rice, no need for the cooking process, unlike other regular rice. In Assamese, Komal means soft and that soft does not require cooking. Soak it in hot water for a few minutes and its ready to eat.
        My home state Assam produces a variety of rice and no wonder we have all kinds of cereals, snacks, to the main course from rice. Any other kind of rice is considered as the main course, whereas Komal Saul is considered as a light meal or snack. As a snack or mini-meal Komal Saul holds a prestigious position in Assamese culinary tradition. Religious function or funeral or even wedding sighting Komal Saul is not uncommon especially in those yesteryears.


What is exactly Komal Saul
 Komal Saul is prepared from Bora Saul or sticky rice which is an indigenous rice variety in Assam. The Bora Saul or sticky rice goes through a process like parboiled rice and becomes Komal Saul. The parboiled process lowers the content of amylose(starch) and makes it soft.

                                         Komal Saul and Regular Rice
How to eat it
Traditionally Komal Saul is served with whippy Yogurt and Jaggery. Also, it can be eaten with milk instead of yogurt and a hint of ghee with it takes it to another level.
If you like it savory then you can eat with salt, a hint of mustard oil and chopped ginger.
In today's modern Assamese society, Komal Saul is not often the 1st choice for a wedding, but in today's fast-paced life, we want everything instant and easy. What you have in Komal Saul, is something instant, easy and also great health benefits as the lower level of starch means less calorie and easy on your digestive system. Incorporate Komal Saul in your daily breakfast, if not every day occasionally, the luscious and fragmented rice not only feeds your mind but heart as well.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Deuta (Dad) - and those Sunshine days that we lived



                                                               (1)
4th January and a lovely joyful morning and I talked to my parents as usual and started my day with zeal. After a few hours, we got a call that Deuta is no more. With Agony and disbelief, I froze and flew to my home state and part of me probably froze for the rest of my life.
                                                               (2)
Don't recall the age, but since I could remember I saw Deuta's inseparable association with radio. Sometimes a flute, Ravi Shankar, Zakir Hussain, sometimes the unknown song on Bangladeshi channel, sometimes BBC or voice of America, known unknown songs that woke us up from Deuta's radio. Our Sundays were filled with music, how we enjoyed Bhupen Hazarika on Sundays. Probably that developed my ear for music and passion for poetry and news for Bhaiti(Brother). Lyrics and fragments of those songs still chimes in me. A prolific writer and an author of 15 published books, Deuta was our best friend, philosopher, and guide.   As a 90s kids, we didn't have a generator in our homes and electricity was so unpredictable and those days television was the no 1 entertainment for us. Since electricity was so unpredictable we often missed watching daily soaps. And Deuta had a solution for it, since he was a born storyteller he came up with his own stories or serials, sometimes-popular stories from Assamese fables or folktales, Maupassant to Tolstoi and made it even more authentic by adding a must-have commercial break. And whenever the electricity blessed upon us we used to Enjoy TV soaps with Deuta wrapping me inside an eri sadar. Ah, I still feel that warmth and comfort in me.
More than going on vacations our trips were mostly to our aunts and uncles and book fairs. We built one big extended family with all our cousins, uncles and aunts. We collected books with Deuta and developed the habit of reading. Our library in Assam is witness to all his vast and precious collection.
                                                               (3)
It has been 18 years since I moved from Assam to Connecticut. I visit every other year if not every year. The phone then skype and now WhatsApp are the mediums I connect with my family almost every day. Deuta was intoxicating with life. Talking to Deuta turned mundane into an amazing and significant day. Over the phone, his delish description of my Mother's everyday food got transported into my tastebud, whether the sour and light quintessential Assamese fish curry or the crunch of crispy pakora or rainy days hot chicken soup. A vivid description of changing season whether the seasonal flowers foxtail in spring or night jasmine in Autumn, through his words Deuta transmitted all the fragrance, sound, song, taste even seasons from Assam to Connecticut.
                                                              (4)
A strict disciplinarian and a man of the method, he had the heart of a child. One who knew how to be happy in other's happiness. Opened a night school for tea garden workers, co-founded the first girl's college in our city and a talent development organization for kids and teens in the early 90s. Words just merely justify his contribution. In spite of all, he was the best human being who enhanced and enriched our life with good memories and experiences that created a path of positivity and inspiration and a little world of love and compassion. Who found joys in small things, watching a sunset while on the way back home or sighting a new bird in the yard. Deuta, who waited for me outside my examination hall, had a drop of tear in his brown eyes eagerly waiting outside the airport, coming back home often bringing spicy samosas for us, never forgot to bring gifts for Ma on every anniversary for last 40 years.
A man on dialysis for the past one year, to be precise 3 times a day, loved the life to the fullest with an undying hope and ever-smiling face left myriad of memory to treasure in our lives. Rest in peace Deuta.

         


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