What would RTH do?

That is the question.

If I were in a highschool yearbook, they would vote me most likely to die of a lynch mob. That does not prevent me from opening my mouth and serving a warm hearty cup of STFU to people who deserve it. My dark scathing humor will leave no matter of existence untouched. My innocence will touch your soul.

Welcome to a warped world turned inside out and upside down. All sorts of discretion advised.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

An American Odyssey - Part Seven

Part One
Part Two
Part Three 
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six

Chaat it up

Thursday May 12th was our last day in Houston. As a farewell our host planned to treat us to chaat for breakfast. There were a couple of well known chaat cafes close by. So around mid morning we piled into our Rendezvous and headed out. It was about 10:30 in the morning, so this was more like a brunch than breakfast. I've never had chaat for brunch, so this would be an interesting experience.

When we entered the joint we were kind of pleasantly surprised to see Mexicans manning the joint. (Alright, I am being somewhat stereotypical here. I'm not really sure of their ethnicity. It could be of any Latin/Hispanic heritage. But you get the gist. I'm not racist or such. I like them more than most other Americans) You get used to a lot of Mexicans in the United States, they are everywhere busing tables, flipping burgers, mowing lawns, cleaning offices and more. In a border state like Texas their numbers are even larger. However, no one in the world would have ever imagined Hispanics cooking it up in a desi joint.

Then again why not. There are many similarities in our cuisines. We have rotis and naans, they have tortillas. We have rice and lentils, they have rice and beans. They love spicy hot food, we love spicy hot food. There are common ingredients like cilantro, cumin, lime, garlic, peppers and more. A lot of Indians enjoy Mexican fare because it has curry like textures and flavors, and has a wider range of vegetarian options. So we were curious to taste Indian chaat prepared by Mexican line cooks.

I cant remember everything we ordered but it was a plethora of various chaats. Dahi batata puri, sev poori, aloo chaat, aloo tikki, vegetable cutlet, masala poori along with Mysore coffee and falooda. It was yet another desi meal in the south, but it was still delicious. The best comparison for chaats is tapas. Just like tapas, it is a small plate dish like an appetizer or snack. Chaat is usually vegetarian utilizing fare like puffed rice & other crunchy delights, vegetables like , potatoes, tomatoes, onions & cilantro, plenty of relishes and chutneys. There is a lot of flavor packed into one tiny bite really. Despite being tiny, it is surprising at how filling chaats can get. Looking at it you would plan on downing two or three plates at least, maybe more. Especially, in a heavy meal like brunch you plan to pack it in. However, this stuff really fills you up.

When it rains, it pours

Texas is experiencing a drought this year. The state is usually known for its hot scorching weather, but this year is exceptionally worse. Usually, it is hot and humid with the Gulf sea bringing in some storms and heavy rains. This year the storms have kept away. For some reason the heavens have decided to pound the Mississippi river and its tributaries, flooding the region into calamity but refusing respite to Texas with even a trickle. On the whole it sucks for the south. Some states are living in water world while Texas begs for water with parched lips.

We visited Texas in the cusp of summer. The weather was hot and arid. It had been dry for days, water was scarce and they were hoping for some showers. The mercurial heat was indeed troublesome for us Midwesterners visiting from the frigid state of Wisconsin, but we did not mind it. It meant nice dry days for us to go about our things. So that afternoon of Thursday May 12th, we had planned to go to the Galleria Mall and cool of some sort.

Unfortunately we failed to realize that we are the unsung rain Gods of the world. Somewhere way back in our families history, the Gods gifted our ancestors with the power of rain. We never really learned to control that power. Rain clouds just perpetually hang out and follow us, engorging on the moisture and spontaneously bursting into precipitation every now and then. My childhood was spent in the monsoon ridden wetlands known as the Konkan coast of India. The clouds followed us across the continents and now give Wisconsin a monsoon season every other year. So as custom goes the clouds had followed us to Texas, and on this our last day in Texas exploded magnificently on Houston, confining us to a lazy afternoon indoors reading books. As a youthful rain God the outpouring of the skies does not bother me. I've been known to tear down the highways of Mississippi at 85 mph pounded by massive columns of rain. However, the elders in the family somehow always seem lethargic after having torn open the skies and prefer to loll around, insisting that I be unproductive and loll around as well for safety reasons.

I've heard the Governor of Texas Rick Perry, has organized prayers for rain. As an unofficial rain god, I proclaim it ain't gonna work - The Gods don't like Texas much. For a nominal fee, return tickets and righteous living arrangements I'd be happy to fly more frequently down to Houston and let it pour. Mississippi, I don't blame you for sharpening the pitchforks for my arrival. But hey Rickie Boy, give our Pagan Gods a chance - we sure can make it rain.

Violent Games

On our final day in Houston, we visited our uncle and his family for dinner. While the ladies in the prepared for the meal, caught up on television or did whatever lady stuff they do, the dads and kids went to the playroom over the garage.

Before I go into the actual gaming, let me lay some foundational background. When it comes to sports, I'm highly competitive. Whether it is a competitive sports game or just a game of cards to wind down, winning is the only think I know and play for. There is absolutely no difference between recreation and competition in my world. Not a natural athlete, I've always relied on other strengths, or rather muscle strength to gain the competitive advantage. Playing cricket meant playing what they called "Hanuman Power" shots and badminton meant barrages of body smashes. I'm also a terribly sore loser. While I might vehemently deny the allegations, as a teen I was sort of a flamboyant and cranky John McEnroe of badminton. Cocky and exuberant on my on days and very pissed and irritable on my off days.

I'm a much more mellowed person now. Its been ages since I seriously played a sport. When your nearing thirty something, you really don't have as much drive in you. I'm a lot more lethargic and lazy now. But every now and then something sparks a competitive edge.

First my dad and uncle played some friendly rounds of table tennis. Then they decided to hand it over to the kids and I found myself facing against my little cousin in a game of table tennis. I'll tell you right now that I lost to my twelve year old cousin. Since I am a sore loser, I'm going to make excuses for myself. I've played a lot of games, badminton, field hockey, cricket, soccer, volleyball, basketball in my teens but table tennis is a game I never played till I came to the United States. The first time I even touched a paddle was in about 2003. I've only played the game when I visit relatives who have table tennis equipment. This game probably was only the eight or ninth game in my entire lifetime. In between these games my lifestyle is table tennis free, never even caught a game on television. In contrast my cousin plays and practices regularly. Just a few more games, and I would have been set playing.

After our grueling game of table tennis, we handed the reigns back to the parental units so they could have their competitive game and turned our attention to the air hockey table. Now this is a sport I've played even less, if you could call it a sport. My last recollection of air hockey is at Niagara falls eons ago, my sister introduced me to the game. I started playing easy in my lazy lackadaisical manner. My cousin though apparently has my competitive spirit and began whacking and slamming that puck like bullets into my goal. I lost my first game and that was it. I know grown ups are supposed to be easy with kids, but I ain't taking a beating in two sports one after another. Besides air hockey is a game that requires absolutely no skill sets or learning curve. If he wanted to bring it, I could bring it to. These arms that have wielded cricket bats and hockey sticks have a lot more strength than a twelve year old table tennis arm.

Bang! Crash! Whack! Boom! I violently pounded the puck as it flew across the table and disappeared into the goal. Bang! Crash! Whack! Boom! My cousin responded with as much might as we could, and my arms flew around magically defending my goal. Bang! Crash! Whack! Boom! There were plenty of defensive and offensive collisions. Bang! Crash! Whack! Boom! Every now and then the puck would fly across the room threatening to decapitate any innocent bystanders. Bang! Crash! Whack! Boom! I'd won two straight games with ease and flair. To give due credit the kid played brilliantly, responding with a lot of gusto and vigor. I see a fiery spark there, I love a competitor.


Finally after getting worn out with some extremely violent games, we retired for the evening to enjoy dinner. It was another nice home cooked Indian meal. There was a refreshing avocado salad that was a medley of some Tex-Mex and Indian kitchen flavors, citrus with a slight kick to it. I never knew avocados could taste so light, not their usual dense creamy texture. There was also an Indian carrot and cabbage slaw of sorts. You have to give Indians credit when it comes to salads, with citrus, spices, yogurt, chillies, we manage to conjure up delicious flavor combinations and elevate salads to a whole new level.

Not so Violent Games

After dinner we settled indoors to play Xbox Kinect. We have had the Nintendo Wii for a long time now and were curious to see how the Kinect works. I am a Nintendo fan girl, but I must admit Kinect is a very cool concept and has a pretty decent motion sensor. It renders itself well to many family friendly games. It could be a big threat to the Wii. However, the Wii has marketed itself very well and I think Microsoft is full of sharp brains but lacks the creative genius to appeal to a market.

We played an athletics game that involved running, long jump, shot put, javelin, hurdles etc. Now I'm not lean like a track star, but I've run my 400k races, done my shot puts and javelins (never hurdles, I jump like a white kid). If this were a real track and field game, I'd have given it my all. When it comes to computer games, I might as well roll over and die. Whether it is old school controllers or motion sensors, my hand and eye coordination is like a drunken monkey on LSD. I'm so ungainly and unbalanced that it would be fair to wonder how I play a sport or even manage to exist. Needless to say I sucked at it big time. Just like I suck at every other video game. Thats why I'm not addicted, I love playing video games, they are fun, but after some time of hard scrabbled playing I give up. The only game I play is Super Smash Bros. where I have mastered my homeboy Link. Maybe, I was not meant for non violent games (Video games are fictional violence). I'm cut out for real world violent sports.

Whatever I'm cut out for, tomorrow is a long day as we head back home.

No comments: