Friday, February 13, 2009

Odds and Sods

An otherwise quiet dinner was suddenly punctuated by an anguished cry. "I swallowed my tooth!!!"

Our son Miles is possessed of a tremendous appetite. This is the first time, however, that he has seen fit to actually remove and swallow a piece of his own anatomy. There were many tears, which only ceased after Laurel and I convinced him that we had both done the same thing when we were younger, and that he was now a member of a very select club. The look of horror on his face was absolutely priceless when I asked him if he was going to collect it tomorrow, otherwise the Tooth Guru may not make an appearance. His nickname of "Fang" is even more apropos now, as he is missing a tooth on either side of a massive adult incisor. The Tooth Guru was generous, and in lieu of actually being able to find the tooth, included and extra ten rupees for cleaning.

We have a developing theme, as I realized this morning. At Christmas we were visited by John Scott and family. And now for Easter we will be visited by John The Scot. My old friend John Dyck is coming from Scotland to rent the upstairs of our house for a few weeks in April. He's coming with his daughter, who is a year younger than Miles. John is a superb studio installer, and has done all the audio and video wiring installations for countless high end studios, including work for EA and the BBC. Once again, it's going to be a lot of fun watching someone encounter this amazing place for the first time!

A couple of days go, we had an awesome day of filming with our friend Chitra, who is married to our friend Gee (mentioned in a few earlier posts). I can attest to the fact that Chitra is an amazing cook, as I've been fortunate to eat at their home on several occasions. She has the uncanny ability to pull a 9 course meal seemingly out of thin air, and everything is perfect. I think that it's unusual that as a Brahmin, she eats only pure veg, but she makes all kinds of duck, pork, fish, and beef dishes for her family, all without even tasting them! Chitra is a beautiful and very charming woman who has agreed to let us into her kitchen on a regular basis to film her teaching us several of her dishes.

Chitra took us to the main market in Ernakulam. It's a sprawling labyrinth of startling visuals and smells. The seafood selection was a bit broader than our market in Kaloor, featuring iridescent local green mussels, squid, crab, innumerable fish varieties, and even one fellow selling stingrays. I would imagine stingray to be something like skate, although I've never tried it. It strikes me as being a mere vehicle for sauce. Then there are the mutton (goat is also known as mutton here), beef, and chicken stalls. These are not for the faint of heart, although should something happen to your heart, the beef vendor will be glad to sell you another one, as he had plenty on display. Installation extra. To those of us who have been hunting or grew up on a farm, seeing recently dispatched critters before they have had a chance to be installed in neat styrofoam and wrapped in plastic is not a big deal. There's something wonderfully primal about it actually. To the uninitiated, however, the urge to become a vegetarian can hit with a surprising vengeance in a place like this.

After the market run with Chitra, she took us to another place very close to her home where there is a small mill that grinds rice, wheat, and spices. This mill also has a vintage press where they fresh squeeze coconut oil. This oil is absolutely essential to Keralan cooking. If you don't use it, the dish will not taste authentic. The press itself looked like 1920's tech, with big coarse belts driving rusty gear wheels from a noisy vintage electric motor. The coconut meat is dried in strips, and the fed through the press at least three times to get all the oil out if it. It smelled amazing. Perhaps the only room in all of India that smells like a warm macaroon on Easter Sunday. We were told that some California restaurants get spices custom ground here in 15 or 20 kilo lots in order to make there own garam masala. Just a great day of filming with Chitra, and we're looking forward to filming several episodes in her kitchen starting on Monday.

Yesterday, I was walking along to the Margin Free store to buy a few essentials, when my mobile rang. It was my friend Rajesh. He said "you must come to the office right now. We will show you something special. Something of a spiritual nature". Thinking that what he said was actually code for a cold beer, I walked the 2 km to his office, my thirst building with each passing block. Upon arriving and climbing the stairs to the office, I walked into the oddest scene. Rajesh, Gee, and a few others were in the room with a very calm looking Hindu gentleman who was holding up 2 "wands", each bent at a 90 degree angle. I understood him to be a practitioner of "Vastu", which can be loosely described as Indian Feng Shui. Gee insisted that I sit down in a chair in front of this man while he used his two bent rods to probe the magnetic field, or subtle emanations coming from my body. The wands seemed to move from one side to another of their own accord. Sometimes, they moved equally in opposite directions, sometimes they both veered sharply in the same direction. I was intrigued, but still not totally buying in. I kept thinking of Scientology probes with an e-meter. There was no way old L. Ron was going to get me to sign up for anything beyond the "free personality test". Then he got to my right leg, wherein I had pulled a thigh muscle a couple of days ago playing soccer. The wands jumped, and he said something to Gee in Malayalam. Gee asked me "Are you having pain in your right leg just above the knee?" "Yes!", I answered, somewhat taken aback. He gently ran his hand down my thigh towards my knee a few times. Not a massage, but like he was re-arranging an invisible layer of whipped egg whites on my leg. I was very surprised to find that my leg pain had been substantially reduced! Not back to 100%, but noticeably better.

Then came the kicker. For the last month or so, I've had some numbness in my right arm, stretching from my shoulder, which I injured over a year ago, and has never been quite right, down to my fingertips. At various time during the day, it feels like most of my arm is just waking up after being "asleep". Aside from Laurel, I've mentioned this to no one. As soon as those metal rods got to my shoulder, they twitched a little, and he shook his head and stopped. He traced a line from my shoulder all the way down to my right hand, and as he was squeezing each one of my fingers, he said something else to Gee. Gee then asked me "Have you been experiencing tingling all up and down your right arm and some numbness in your fingers?" I picked my jaw up off the floor and managed a quiet "yes...". This too was massaged a bit, and I was told to get a certain ayurvedic oil to apply for a couple of weeks, along with some hot towels once a day. In two weeks I should be fine.

Finally, I was informed that my heart resides in Saturn, astrologically speaking, and that when the moon is in Saturn, it's not uncommon for someone like me to suffer mild upsets of the nervous system. This heart news I found unusual, as previously I had only been told by friends up to this point that "your head is firmly lodged up Uranus". Furthermore, I was judged to be of otherwise sound health, and the recipient of some very good karma in recent years. I was advised that I should go to a shrine of Saint Thomas every Tuesday morning at 6:15 AM for the next three weeks to light a candle in order to give thanks for blessings received and to smooth the way for more to come. I didn't have the heart to tell him I wasn't a Catholic. I'm not even a Protestant, although Laurel tells me that she thinks I doth protest too much.

All I know is this. On Tuesday I'm getting up early. I'm lighting those damned candles!

1 comment:

Murray A said...

I'd love to see if he could fix my feet that have been tingling and painful for the past 8 years. However, not planning on a trip to India for the next month or so!