Ennu Ninte Moideen Biriyani

I am a proud Biryani lover and I go to every nook and corner of the city looking for a biriyani centre.
According to me, a good biriyani is one which can be eaten without any side dish, be it raitha or brinjal chutney.But the best biriyani is one which brings a smile on your face the moment you see it. This smile is so special that it doesn’t come from the heart, it comes from the stomach.

A few days back, While having biriyani at one of the joints, I was bragging about my love of biriyani to one of my friends and he asked me whether I had been to ‘Moideen Biriyani’ in ‘Pallavaram’. I had never heard of a place like that. It was a like a slap across my face to tell me that I am not the be all and end all of biriyani lovers.

I had a client meeting at Chromepet, a few kms away from Pallavaram. The moment the meeting was over, I remembered the slap on the face and decided to go to Moideen. As I reached Pallavaram, I called my friend for directions and he told me to ask anyone there and they would guide me. I asked at 3-4 places and to my surprise, everyone guided me to this place perfectly. I saw the board and there was a long queue outside that place. I really thought there was a Tasmac wine shop nearby and for the first time in my life, I saw a long queue for a plate of biriyani.

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Guys… It wasn’t free biriyani to attract such a huge crowd. People had to buy tokens on the extreme right of the corridor and join the long queue.

If you remember the movie ‘Guna’, Kamal Hassan stands in a queue to get laddoos from his imaginary lover ‘Abirami’. Here, it was me smiling more and more as I was getting closer to the take away point.
We wait in Tirupati for 24 hours in a line and the moment we feel the chillness in the air, we know that we are nearing the sanctum. The moment idol is in front, everyone goes crazy, not knowing what to do or pray. By the time we realise we have reached the place, we are out of that place.

I knew my wait for 20 mins was coming to an end. I could feel the aroma of Moideen biriyani. Every second near the take away point was a war I had to wage with my stomach as it wasn’t ready to wait anymore. I saw a small room with 2 huge vessels filled with biriyani. I gave my token thinking that they would take some time and I can enjoy seeing the way they operated. They were so quick that by the time I could register how they were handling, I had my biriyani and was out of that place.

The moment I had the hot biriyani, it was like Rajni winning the first ticket for chinna thambi in the Movie ‘Mannan’. It was  happiness and jubilation.. I had a sense of victory and joy all over. I knew this was going to be one of the best biriyanis I have ever had.

This place had just 2 small rooms with slabs attached to walls. In one of those rooms, there were almost 20 people from varied backgrounds standing shoulder to shoulder . From torn lungis to Raymonds trousers. From the ones who own cars to the ones who walk their way. This biriyani brought everyone together. The divide something which most governments failed to reduce, was achieved by biriyani. People are the same in 2 places. One in front of god and other in front of food.

I stood among those people to eat my biriyani. The moment I tasted it, my eyes closed, I felt a sense of silence and peace in that crowded place and it was that moment of ecstasy and bliss which every biriyani lover yearns to experience. I had a packet of fried chicken to eat along with the biriyani. The taste was so good that I didn’t want to eat fried chicken and spoil the taste of something which was just amazing by itself. I gave away the fried chicken to a beggar and to see that smile was so gratifying.

For a person, who has tasted all kinds of biriyanis starting from Venu & thalapakkati in dindigul, Paradise and Bahar’s cafe in hyderabad, Star in Ambur, khaja in Vaniyambadi to thalapakkatu, Ameerunisa, Buhari, muniyandi vilas, aasife, Kalayana bhavan, Anjappar, Arasappar, Ponnusamys and many more in Chennai, this will go down as one of the best Biriyanis I have ever eaten.

A Tirupati Darshan for a pilgrim,
Chinna Thambi tickets for Rajni,
Abirami for Guna,
Moideen for Kanchanamala,
Moideen Biriyani for me….

Idhuvum Kadandhupogum
Maya

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Jai hind ki sena

aye mere vatan ke logo                                   (O! the people of my country!)
zaraa aankh mein bhar lo paani                   (
have some tears in your eyes)
jo shaheed hue hain unaki                              (
those who have become martyrs)
zaraa yaad karo qurabani                               (
remember their sacrifice)

Every time I listen to this beautiful song, tears roll out of my eyes and take me to that day which defined my life.

May 12, 1999

Army Quarters, Jammu

I could sense that he was desperate and passion to make love was running high. Any man would be that way when he meets his love after six long months of loneliness. I had a steamy shower and came out with lovely red dress to make his manhood run riot.

The clock stuck nine,

He sipped a pint of wine,

Then his lips pecked mine, and

I got what was mine.

He just pushed me to the bed and I could feel the warmth of his skin on mine. He conquered every inch of me with his moist lips and the terrain wasn’t too rough for the horse to gallop. We were on fire and the burning desire was just helping us travel higher and higher towards Venus. We reached the wild land of ecstasy, our lips met, our hearts spoke, and we cuddled there, breathing hard and before I could open my lips to ask for one more, phone rung frantically.

I felt cozy under the blanket and was listening to Abhi speaking

“Hello,

Sir,

leaving immediately Sir,

Okay Sir”.

Abhi came back slowly, sat by my side and before he could open his mouth, I asked him with great sense of sadness when he was supposed to leave and Abhi said “Abi Kargil jaana hai, Operation Vijay keliye(Need to leave to Kargil immediately for Operation Vijay)”.

The bags which he had brought that morning hadn’t been opened and he took those and left home at 11pm along with so many others in the quarters.

Once he had left, I was again forced to share my life with loneliness and the wait for a call from Abhi, was the only thing which was really worthy.

July 10, 1999

The news channels were wrecking my nerves about the intensity of the war and the casualties of the same. The absence of any news from Abhi was getting me tensed and pushing me into depression.

Finally, I got the call, the final call from Abhi

Abhi: Hey Pooja, situation is bad and couldn’t call

Pooja: Aap safe ho

Abhi: Yeah, I am fine and I have been assigned the capture of point 5140.

Pooja: Sambaalke (Careful). I am waiting for you

Abhi: Either I will come back after hoisting the Tricolour, or I will come back wrapped in it, but I will be back for sure dear. Love you.

July 24, 1999

The phone rang again for the final time in the army quarters at Jammu, to inform me that Lt.Abhimanyu had been wrapped and was being sent to our home at Delhi for the final rites. The news pulled the life out of me, shattered my heart and every time I tried to gather myself, I broke down. My crying got my neighbors to console me saying that it was a brave death and those ladies were bringing down the gods not to give them the same plight as mine.

I rushed to Delhi, bidding adieu to all those in the quarters who were by my side when Abhi was away.

I swam through all sorts of emotions when I travelled from Jammu to Delhi. I felt the great loss, the permanent void he had created, the deadly remorse, the pride that he had shouldered the nation and the love I would miss. We generally departed to meet and met to depart but this time, we departed to depart.

July 28, 1999

The fighting ceased on July 26, 1999 and India had succeeded in Operation Vijay. I was expecting Abhi would be brought in at any time and I had made up my mind not to break down when he was brought in with all honors and I did succeed in doing so till all the final rites were completed.

When I was left with the great memories, Captain Surya came near me, held my hands and told me “Your husband was a great son to this country. I went for his cover when he was severely wounded in his leg and told him thera biwi wait kartha hai(Your wife is waiting for you) and you need to leave the field. Abhi ne bola, sir, meri maa bhi (my mother India is waiting too). He fought like a warrior and when he was about to succeed the mission, his fate was decided the other way around. When he was sweating to death in his chaps and iron chest plate he said “Khush rahanaa desh ke pyaaro ab ham to safar karate hain” (Stay happy, beloved citizens of the country, now we start our journey)”.

I broke down with great pride of being the wife of Lt.Abhimanyu who laid down his life for India when I read the last page of his diary “Some goals are so worthy, it’s glorious even to fail”.

August 15, 1999

The pride I carried was acknowledged by the Indian government when Abhi was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra (India’s highest gallantry award) and when I went to collect the award, it wasn’t me alone, I had Arjun in my womb, Abhi’s gift of love for me.

PS: The warriors had only one request, remember them.

Jai Hind

Maya

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It’s time to move on

When I was on board, I thought I had fled successfully and had escaped with great ease, but to my shock, the game wasn’t over yet. I had been captured yet again. I was being surrounded by a big battalion which was blocking  my eyes. Fate did have its role to play as Arjun (my son) was the commander of the battalion with a lovely firing order smiling at me. Didn’t know whether it was good luck or otherwise to see my son in front of me before the climax of an unworthy man.

I had always been a fighter and I was still looking for a flaw in their battle formation so as to find an escape route. The battalion had seen many like me and their formation was with greatest accuracy leaving no way of escape. The way things were taking place, I knew it was going to be curtains down in a short while. It left me no other option than to pray to my savior for an unknown portal to open and lend his divine hand so that I could be guided out from this band of soldiers.

Guilt is such a killing feeling which comes to you when it’s completely unwarranted. The guilt was taking me through an ideal life which I could have lived with my family leaving many happy and proud of my living. Thoughts were making me yearn for a day more to make things straight, and were pushing me to beg the commander to take back his firing orders and give me a second chance. I taught him, duty was the foremost and I knew he wouldn’t let my words go down the drain.

My life was just running like a reel in front of me and I could look at everyone who loved me. I was yearning to spend a few minutes with my granddaughter Pooja who was playing with her doll not knowing she wouldn’t see her dada (grand father) again. “I should have let go the clumsy burning finger which I held all through, when you asked me to hold your hands to raise and dance the ‘ring-a-ring-a roses’. I should have sang with you the ‘Jack and Jill’ instead of fetching a pail of beer for myself and tumbling before you. I was busy feeding myself with smoke and ecstasy, while you were yearning to sit on my lap thinking that I would feed you showing you the moon and telling you a story”.

I was still waiting for my savior, with my son walking around me with some kind of an object on his shoulder and saying something which I couldn’t understand as I have never been in this situation before. Arjun was a boon for Maya and myself. “If I had known earlier that I would be in such a state I am in today, I would have shared your joys and sorrows the way Maya did. I don’t blame you for the rift caused between us as it was me who made things go the wrong way. I have let you down in so many places and I know that you have never done that to me in front of others. You have made me proud in every way you could. My ego didn’t let me bow down to you and please forgive me for that. I should have enjoyed your success with you rather than enjoying your success with my friends drinking in the bar. I called everyone on my contact list to tell that you have succeeded, when you weren’t at home. I always wished good for you and have always thought that you should live your life better than I did. Only mistake was that I never did those things in front of you and expressed my true love for you. I am proud of you and I love you”.

My savior hadn’t come yet and when Arjun was behind me, I was struck by a pale figure standing in one corner wearing a white sari weeping louder with every step Arjun was taking around me. I have never seen her that way; she was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. “Hey Maya, the memories of meeting you are still fresh on my mind. I still remember the day we met, you in that lovely blue sari and your hair flowing like a wave.That swept me off my feet for the first time in my life, I felt you were irresistible.Phew!!! What a day!!! An unforgettable one. I remember our first hug, the first kiss, the first gift, the first night and our first and only love for each other. Sorry da for not quitting smoking and spoiling my health and your life. You have always stood by me during thick and thin and I am really sorry for leaving you alone.”

I had put her loving soul to distress while I suffered from a burnt black lung affected by cancer and was now moving away to an unknown land.

“Maya, I loved you for what you were, with all I had and the love for you which is still burning in me, begs for a day more so that I can see you colourful again. Please Maya,let us bid adios on a better note,not a tearful one. I can’t leave you like this.Will miss you.”

I heard a bang, the pot Arjun was carrying on his shoulder had crashed onto the surface as he was done with three rounds of walking around me. While he was ready to set ablaze the wooden soldiers that surrounded me, my savior arrived. I saw that unknown portal open, with an outstretched hand to lead me and before I could request for a day more, my earthly body already on fire and I heard a patient voice telling me “It’s time to move on, my son”.

Idhuvum Kadandhupogum

Maya

Enjoy nature

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Love – Sharing Prohibited

I woke up after a disturbed sleep to find my wife not by my side. I sprung up from the bed to find the brush with the paste on it, a steamy aromatic coffee on the tripod and neatly folded paper under it. I had the shock of my life as it was a letter handwritten by my wife and it said

Arjun,

I couldn’t digest da, after me showering so much of love and making a lot of sacrifices for you, you still had a deficit which made you forget the love I had for you. I haven’t been possessive but definitely can’t accept your love flipping during sad times da. My mind doesn’t let me stay there with you. I love you and staying there might force my mind to start hating you. I don’t want to hate you da as I know that you truly loved me. Hope god and our love get us back together. I shall love you forever Arjun. Find where you have buried the love you have had for me. Rake it up. The day you find it, there can be none who can occupy your heart but me.

Your love forever

Maya

 

I was shattered and torn into pieces when every word in the letter caressed me with the love she had for me even after me betraying the purity of her love and trust. I was pleading to the heavens to get her back and the guilt my action had created was churning my stomach and bleeding my heart. I had dropped the precious crystal ball of love which she held at the pinnacle, just for satisfying my male chauvinist ego. The bleeding heart pounded to say that I loved her; I love her and shall love Maya forever.

I hadn’t got over the shock the morning had brought up and the guilt was throwing me incidents, of the love we had for each other. We fell in love during our 11th grade, did our graduation together despite she getting a better university. We even worked together for a few years and had let go of lot of career opportunities just to stay with each other. We neither valued money nor our career but something that had the greatest importance was our love for each other which grew stronger as every day passed. We had a lot of obstacles starting from her family who were against it. She came a long way sacrificing her family which she valued a lot. She had never regretted facing all those difficulties as it was for me. That was the love she had for me.

Today, she neither has her family to go to nor me. I have betrayed her and have made her search for solace in some corner of this world.

She had told me in the letter that only god and love can get us back. Me being an atheist, prayed to god fervently for the first time with utmost faith to give me the strength to get Maya back. I took my bike and went looking for her in her work place and failed to find her. The constant calls made to her mobile were just wasting the battery charge as there was no response from her side for the ringing phone. The heat was just playing against me but the urge to get her back was just pushing me forward. I went to all corners of the city during the day without water or food but with a lot of determination to get her back. After all the searching I did, I returned back home dejected thinking about what had happened because of the unforgiveable act of mine.

The house looked like a graveyard and I was nothing but a lifeless body which was moving around in the house. We used to eat dinner together as each one used to wait for the other one to join, however late it might get. Today, I wasn’t in a position to eat dinner alone as I couldn’t manage life without her. I forced myself to have something for having some strength for the next day’s search.

Before getting to bed, I called her again with no use and I finally sent her a message telling her the pain I am going through and the darkness that has come about in my life because of her absence. I conveyed by a message that I have been looking for her on the highway (the one which she loved to go for a drive with me), the railway bridge where we used to go every year on our wedding day (the place where our love started), the park in which we used speak our heart out and so many other places which had seen our love blossom into a beautiful flower.

I laid down expecting some information to come up from her as I knew that she wouldn’t punish me more than what she had done during the day by her absence. I sprung up every time my mobile made some noise. After an hour of waiting, I got a message from her which read

“I can understand the pain you are going through da. I am safe da. Take a break and I too need a break da.I shall be home soon. Miss you da. Pray to god to do the best da. I still love you.” – Your Maya

I got some relief that she was safe but the expectation to see her and seek for forgiveness was growing. I was just looking at the mobile in hand through and through expecting something to come up from her. After two days of depressing survival without proper food and sleep, I dozed off in the night without my knowledge.

I woke up after hibernating for 12 hours to find the brush with the paste on it, a steamy aromatic coffee on the tripod with another hand written letter under it which read.

“Good morning da. Waiting for you in the balcony.”

I rushed to the balcony and stood still, a foot away from her but it was if she was light-years away from me. My eyes conveyed my love and the pardon I sought gushed out a tear that trickled down my eyes and crushed my male ego and the tight hug she gave me said it all.

Idhuvum Kadandhupogum

Maya

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Better late than never

I have known Meenakshi from the time I stopped using nappies. The friendship which prevailed between our parents was the reason for our homes to be in the same apartment. We were inseparable like the Siamese twins and were as close to an extent that we never missed the other one’s company. She was part and parcel of my life and there was no childhood memory where she wasn’t a part of.

We were fortunate to be in the same class from Kindergarten till the secondary stage. We went to school together, played together, fought together and most of the times our thoughts coincided too. Togetherness seemed to be a word found just to describe how we were. We also went to the extent of asking an extra gift for the other person when someone gifted us something in singular.

Let it be a dream, let it be a reality, I have had my life completely with a girl whom I fondly called “Meenu”.
Every story has a turning point and my life also had one.

This happened when Meenu joined another school for pursuing a different stream of studies and I was completely left alone. I had never been without her and every time I looked around to share something, she wasn’t there. I used to wait for the bell to run back home so that I could spend some time with her and to my disappointment, she used to be late every day. I made it a point to spend the few minutes which we used to get in the night to share what we had to. The life without her by my side became tougher as days progressed.

One fine day, I saw her with a guy who she introduced to be her friend from the new school and I couldn’t bear the feeling of her with someone else. I realized that day, that it was difficult to imagine a life without her and assured myself that I had fallen in love with her.

Time passed like a whirlwind and we had enjoyed the time which we got every day, during those years in which we were engaged in graduating ourselves.

Everything ran so fast and my love for Meenu was known to none except me. I had refrained from expressing my love for years and I felt I might even lose her if I delayed further. I decided to express my love on her 24th birthday. Her first birthday wish had always been from my side and this time, some other guy had already wished her before I could. This was one of the dreadful moments of life and before I could say a word after wishing her, she told me to come home the next day, as she held some surprise for me.

I was early to her house the next day and was talking to her parents with a smile on my face concealing the tension I had. She came down like an angel, got us all together in the dining table and said that she was in love with a guy named Fabien Pinto. I was shocked and her parents hugged on to her in agreement despite her lover being an Anglo Indian. I had a smile on my face and my heart was pushing me to tell her that I loved her. I controlled my emotions and the inner pressure of expressing my love to her.

A few days Later…

A role of a family friend was too tough to play during the days leading to the engagement helping them with the arrangements. It required a lot of heart to do such a thing with a smile on your face. I did it for my love, for our parents and to say the least I did it for “Meenu”. She even forced me to design a dress for the function and Meenu was moving all along the lawn in the costume which I had designed enjoying the engagement with no traces of regret.

Still, I was amazed that she never understood that I loved her so much and for so long. It was disappointing and I felt I was too late in expressing myself. When she could understand every movement of mine, why couldn’t she understand the love I had for her????? Life went with a lot of questions in mind.
A few days after engagement, she came home with a wedding card and wanted me to accompany her in inviting all our friends for the wedding at the Cathedral, the following month. She forced me to be by her side while she did all the shopping for the marriage and I was constantly telling myself that I did it for the love I had, I have and will have.
Fabien Weds Meenakshi

(The day of reckoning)

It was the first time I visited a Cathedral and I had to do it for Meenakshi. I saw her dressed in a white bridal costume and getting ready for the prayers before the wedding. I was just looking at the clock for all the customary rituals to get over and that’s when the Priest announced to the gathering that Meenakshi and Fabien would exchange their rings.

I couldn’t wait anymore and I just did what my heart said. I went close to Meenu, brushed my lips against hers and said “It would be unfair on my part to conceal my love anymore. I love you Meenu”.

She gave me a tight hug and replied “Me too Fabien.”

Idhuvum Kadandhupogum
Maya

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Man of Words

Marriage of "you Guessed Who"

Marriage of “you Guessed Who”

He has been a friendship gift given to us by SP and KP whose company we cherish till this very moment and shall do the same forever. He gets ready for a new innings which is going to be the innings of his life with a gem who shall be called RP.

He has been one of the most caring people you could ever see and the affection he shows blinds many nuisances he creates to people around. Sky seems to be the limit for his affection for known and unknown people. He cares, shares and bears with all the people and prefers not hurting anyone on any issue.

He has never played a hero role like Super Star but he has proved himself to be a seasoned veteran in character role play in real life. He has been an unsystematic person all through his life but has been more than systematic in playing his role to all his dear ones.

He, the man “You Guessed Who” (This is not Harry Potter by any chance) has been one of the most dedicated sons I have ever seen. He can definitely be taken as a role model for many sons who don’t even have time for looking at their parents smile. As many say, it is definitely a boon to get such a son who carries his entire family on his shoulders and faces all trials and tribulations like a Spartan without getting his family affected. Pride would definitely run high for any parent who has got a son like him. These responsible attributes listed above does not stop him from behaving like a kindergarten kid as he still expects his parents or his younger sister to polish his shoes and take care of his clothing. His nephew who is just 4 years old does get ready on his own while the parents of our man are busy helping him get ready. SP and KP have definitely been made Proud Parents.

Recession has played its role by putting people off jobs, whereas the man “You Guessed Who” has been running an employment exchange by creating jobs for the deserving and the undeserving. He has been a saviour for many families and has improved their living drastically. He has been a great worker all his life and this has been one of the major reasons for his growth as a Centurion in such short span of life. A man can look rosy but can be thorny at times. This man is no different. He is the proud owner of the phrase “On the way” as he uses this term like the waves of the sea to all his clients and those poor souls have no other go than to believe. He still brings laurels and comes out successfully from all ventures. Hard work has no substitutes says a fool, Smart work is a better word says a man who has always been a Prolific Performer.

The man “You Guessed Who” has been an epitome of friendship and has many a times been a glue in maintaining certain relationships which would have been extinct if he had not been there. He is a terrific entertainer and silence would be a distant word when he is around. He gets too emotional and forgives them as he holds friendship more than his personal ego . This man, as our friends call is basically not a nice guy. He can make you believe certain things which are completely true only to him. He always tries to do things which are completely beyond his reach and would definitely boast as if he could do better than others. In these cases, we could only laugh as a reply. In a simple case of jogging, the man we speak about says he could always run 2 rounds more than the person who accompanies him. He purchases the costliest shoes possible in the market and jogs consistently for not more than 2 days. This is the case when it comes to cricket (bowling the fastest ball) ,swimming (maximum rounds in the pool) and getting ready (he says he could get ready 15 minutes before other guys in the group and ends up late every time).

He seldom listens and gives us an opportunity to talk when he talks with someone else. He stands to his points and proves it right by riding over with a higher voice. He has never been successful with me as I have a louder voice. In the group of friends he is definitely a guy with Perum Petchu.

He starts a new inning in his pretty simple life and we hope happiness is bestowed upon the lovely couple. He has been a Performer P……… , Punctual P………… and so on, but from now on he shall be the near and dear of a very fine one and hope she holds him as a Prized Possession.

This man is a package, cherish him as he is. It’s worth looking at the rose than spending time looking at the thorns. This package is worth visiting and you shall be forced to visit again and cherish his company. We all love you PP.

Idhuvum Kadandhupogum
Maya

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