‘’ You will never be alone in your life ‘’
On a perfect morning, you wake up happily along with the excited chirpings of the early bird. Drink a glass of boiled water. Do Sun salutations. The next important waking up ritual is the first cup of tea, followed by a second and then a little more. Of course at intervals and almost like a tea ceremony. But on an extremely beautiful day like this, you step out immediately after the sun salutations to pluck mogras from the neighbor’s fence. Because little more light on the road and all the flowers will be gone. We all have different flowers adorning our respective fences. I have little white ‘’Nanthayrvattaom’’, white and gold ‘’Parijatham ‘’and occasionally the blue ‘’Krishna Kamal’’. Whoever needs the flowers for morning pujas comes and plucks them too.
I especially love to collect mogra flowers in small cane baskets to get that rustic feeling. The soft morning light is very precious for a Photographer. So I arrange the flowers on the wooden board. Added some red Kanakambaram from my garden also to make it more appealing. Now it is important to drink that first cup of tea. I love the small cut glasses for my tea which are originally bought as photo props. After that tea, a quick mobile click of flowers goes to a flower lover. Drink the second cup and get the gears ready for the shoot. The shooting can go on till the rays cast sharp shadows and the battery gets exhausted showing the red sign. I quietly thank the sleeping and snoring family quite oblivious of all the hectic activities happening in the front room which is my messy studio by now with scattered teacups and props. I manage to clear up space before everyone wakes up.
Now I am ready to shoot, that is my love also. I will take countless shots from many angles, sometimes climbing on the chair handle for a flat lay. I am sure my kids will get embarrassed seeing me thus perched on the chair handle dangerously. Photography can be done only among Photographers. It is not a family thing. There was a time when I was infatuated with Macro Photography, which means finding tiny objects like the eye of a dragonfly or finding a drop hanging on a grass blade or flower petal. Mostly this activity meant crawling on all fours stealthily on the ground wherever you find an interesting subject.
Often strangers found me kneeling near a grass blade, or watchmen found me trespassing into some places chasing dewdrops in the morning light. The camera in my hand saved me from questionable situations. There were times I knelt near a grass blade just for the sake of it, simply overwhelmed at its beauty and simplicity. Now I am infatuated with Food Photography which has another set of procedures.
The morning shoot goes on till the sun starts casting sharp shadows or sometimes the battery gets exhausted and shows a red signal. I finish the day’s shooting, and sip a little more tea and start to make a mogra garland interspersed with red kanakambaram flowers. A beautiful image of M. S. Amma clad in a parrot green Kancheevaram saree and adorned with a dazzling diamond nose pin and mogra strings flashes across my mind. This image brightens up my thoughts and I long to wear a lovely silk saree, my nose ring, and wear the mogra strings on my hair. That could have been ideal for a beautiful morning like this. Looking traditional and everything classical. But the reality is something different. The sun is up by now and I am still sweating in my old cotton nighty and hair in a messy bun and the kitchen inviting me to make the breakfast. I pick up the newspaper and milk pouches from the floor where the milkman left them some time back. I wash the pouches carefully in running water. Wash and sanitize my hands and enter my kitchen. I start making a Mammidikay Pappu listening to MS Amma’s Rangapura Vihara playing on my mobile.
Mamidikay Pappu. ( Mango Dal )
This is a very popular Dal delicacy of South India, especially Andhra Pradesh. I heard this cute name of this recipe recently from a friend of mine and wanted to try it out. It turned out awesome .!
1 cup Tur dal ( Pigeon Pea)
1 small raw mango (Mamidikay )
1 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
For Tempering :
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp urad dal
3 to 4 red chillies
3 to 4 green chillies
A pinch of hing. ( asafoetida )
Wash the dal. Add 2 cups water, mango slices and turmeric powder. Cook in a pressure cooker up to 4 whistles or till the dal is well cooked. When cooled open the cooker and mash the ingredients well. Add salt. Add one cup of water if neeed for the required consistency. Mix well.
Heat a kadai. Add few teaspoons of oil of your choice or ghee for tempering. When the oil is hot, add mustard seeds, urad dal, sliced green and dry red chillies and a pinch of hing and cumin seeds. sauté well. Now add the curry leaves. Pour the dal into the tempering. Delicious Mamidikay Papu is ready. Serve hot with rice. Once you taste this traditional dish you will come to realise why even celebrities are endorsing it!
Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi was an Indian Carnatic singer from Madurai, Tamil Nadu. She was the first musician ever to be awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour. She is known as the ‘’Nightingale of Carnatic Music’’