Khara bun in Bush Country

Went to Dallas for a nostalgic week with Venky, Priya, Sanju and Rajeev. It was my maiden solo flight in the US, from Dulles Airport to Dallas Fort Worth . My alarm at being swallowed into the gargantuan oesophagus of the departure terminal at Dulles (Dullus, is how you say it, not Dulls I learnt) as P left me to my fate , was inversely proportional to the relief that washed over me on  sighting Venky in DALLus  (not Dullaas).

Because, at Dulles, I went down a deep escalator that looked long enough to connect  Mt.Everest with its base, walked through winding passages, went up a couple or three escalators, and took a little train ,  went down the escalator and finally reached the RIGHT Gate. No fear of getting on the wrong plane and going off  to Brisbane this time.

No such confounding exit awaited me at DFW.  I was out  in under 10 minutes, and was found by Venky and we got home to Plano in about 40 minutes.

Priya had a lunch that was redolent of Madras waiting,  which was eaten over IPL   followed by a bit of Sun TV. With Rohini’s famous cross-stitch of the bald eagle swooping magnificently across a backdrop of purple mountains and a couple of her other masterpieces hanging on the living room walls,  it felt more like Madras than Dallas.

The heavy Sunday lunch called for an afternoon spent lying prone like a python that had wolfed down an elephant ( haha– that’s the wildlife taken care of) which all of  us  proceeded to do, snuggling  with fleece blankets on the sofas (Venky and Priya) and on the lounger (me). Sanju and Rajeev disappeared into their own lairs.

In the evening we went to the mall.



Venky was being the indulgent Big Brother, asking me what I wanted, and telling Priya to get me this , that and the other, as we strolled through the mall,  looking for things to buy and then waiting for the feeling to go away, thus saving ourselves a lot of money.

We just looked in windows, and I tried to stare unobtrusively at guy who had gelled up his hair in punky pikes, remembering not to  say anything in any of the languages we knew, because in Texas, apart from Bush, you never know who speaks the same ones. And the consequences of such indiscretions cannot really be contemplated.

When we came to the pretzel shop, Venky asked if I’d like one. I knew of the pretzel, and the legend of George Bush choking on one, and the zillion jokes that grew around it, but  what with one thing and another, never really googled that one.

I was coming face to face with the presidential offender at last. Venky insisted I should try the jalopeno  pretzel. Of course, this wasn’t the one that  launched a zillion punchlines, but I prefer the pungent to the sweet, and soon I was salivating over a loop of what looked like ………

nothing I had seen before. I popped a bit in my mouth, and then my eyes popped out in surprise. Venky had become quite still, and was staring unblinkly at me……

“Hey……….this is like the khara bun– Hassan Bakery style!!”

Venky’s delighted crack of laughter said it all!  How many khara buns with bits of chillies, onion and coriander had we bitten into through countless summer holidays, and later when Venky stopped by on his way home to Madras from Hassan, where he was studying engineering!

Rainy afternoon with Enid Blytons (me , not Venky, who wasn’t the bookish sort in those days, though he has turned into one now, thanks to his job that takes him Up In the Air,  like George Clooney. I can see him looking at this menacingly!) and khara buns to munch on– it was bliss.

That March Sunday evening, it was uncanny… Venky and I  munching on khara bun in Bush country!! Who’d ever have thought it possible? !!

Pretzel BTW  is a type of European-descended baked goody made from dough in soft and hard varieties and savory or sweet flavors often in a unique knot-like shape. The archetypal pretzel shape is a distinctive symmetrical looped form, whereby the ends of a long strip of dough are intertwined, says Wikipedia.

Here’s the pic of a pretzel– not the jalopeno. Probably the kind that Bush choked on.

Roads Scholar

Road Runner and Maaaaaaaaaa... at lunch

Road Runner

If you’re on the highway and Road Runner goes beep beep.
Just step aside or might end up in a heap.
Road Runner, Road Runner runs on the road all day.
Even the coyote can’t make him change his ways.
Road Runner, the coyote’s after you.
Road Runner, if he catches you you’re through.
Road Runner, the coyote’s after you.
Road Runner, if he catches you you’re through.
That coyote is really a crazy clown,
When will he learn he can never mow him down?
Poor little Road Runner never bothers anyone,
Just runnin’ down the road’s his idea of having fun.

***                               ***                            ***

Ani and I were best friends from school through PU, after which she wandered into home science, and I  managed to finish my degree in science before straying serendipitously into journalism. In that time, I missed  Ani‘s wedding,(and more, as I found out later)  and one day I decided to putter over on my Luna to Luxandria ( Lakkasandra, where the old Alma Mater is, and Ani‘s home) and reconnect.

When I knocked, it was an urgently pregnant Ani who opened the  door. and in our excitement of  finding each other again, although we caught up on most things, she forgot to tell me her husband’s name, let alone what his profession was, and when I finally did find out, the bundle of joy had been delivered , named Jenu (knick kname only) and she was on the verge of turning four.

Oh! and her dad’s name is Swamy. Madikehalli Ranga Swamy. Pot-village Colour Lord . Jenu (whose good name, as they say in Namesake, is Neethi) was a rebellious Jerry Mouse, who refused to talk to me on being introduced, and for the next two-three years, gave me a hard time by answering the phone when I called, and forgetting  to tell her mother about it, and I  listened many times to her mother and Jenu slugging it out over why Jenu ought to eat her lunch.

It is all the more exasperating to  remember that this annoying habit  lasted until cellphones became a reality, and vanished as soon as everyone became cell-empowered, and it didn’t matter if Jerry Mice left you holding for 20 minutes. My attempts to get over such mortification  at the hands of an  infante’ terrible by  gently teasing her, didn’t fool her , and a couple of times she worriedly wondered why Ani was friends with me—  aunty thumba fun madthaare ma.

Suddenly, Jerry Mouse was growing up very fast. She was now Road Runner.

That’s her mother there, in the picture, going after her with fork and knife. As usual, she’s brought back her dabba, with the chapati and curry packed lovingly by her maaa……. intact and untouched, and her mother is furious and frustrated. “what can I do? I didn’t feel like eating”, is her bland explanation as her mother rages and rants.

Ani and I read the books appropriate for our age through school and college, and her greatest grouse is the Road Runner would never touch a book. I too tried. Every year, for her birthday I gave her a book– Enid Blytons mostly, but when I borrowed Malory Towers three-in-one after gifting it to her with the fervent plea, READ, FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE, the Road Runner never even noticed it had gone.

She was busy playing with kids half  her size and age or twice her size and age ,  on the street , and we wondered why they doted on her, particularly the six-footer (almost) who followed her around in Scooby Doo-usque proportions.

We planned a trip to Delhi and Jaipur, and hoping she would not be bland about it, we asked her to run down  to LuvSat’s  cyber  cafe down the road and download some info on these places. She never did. We harangued her, and on the third day, she couldn’t take it anymore. “What can I do? Shilpa didn’t give me print out!

Between us, Ani and I had decided Jenu didn’t want to use her brains, because she believed overuse could wear it out, fray it thin. We often wondered if she paid attention .   She certainly had to be called more than twice if her eyes were peeled on the TV.

We found her once,  lolling on the couch with her best friend,  Ananya, and they were watching a very bad print of a movie.

Which movie is that? I asked, and it was Ananya who answered, “How to lose a man in ten  days”, without taking her eyes off the TV. Jenu, as always, looked gloriously vague. But  I suspect she puts on an act. Because when Ani and I were once  talking about J Lo’s  awkward posterior, she interrupted  with asperity, “you are just jealous of  her”. We were too surprised  to laugh, which we did only after she had run off to be Road Runner, and concluded that she  was a thinking kid, after all. Ani who spent six  years telling her daughter she was 32 every birthday, could no pull that trick on Jenu any more.

She still doesn’t read much. She reads a little though. (Alchemist, a Sidney Sheldon and a couple of Jeffrey Archers. After counting her entire library, you might still have a couple of fingers and all your toes left ) Better than George Bush,  what a relief!  I never bothered buying her Harry Potter. At least she made an effort to get t the story from Shilpa and Ananya,  and watched the movies, and talked the talk that left people thinking she knew more than she was telling.

She always had a good head for business, and at any time, was richer than her mother, thanks largely to her maternal uncle Jithu’s  penchant for borrowing from her at heavy interest.

Almost as if she did it when we  blinked, the bland, disinterested (we thought) little girl has grown into a sensitive, caring young woman who can be depended upon to handle a crisis if she were plunged into it at the deep end. In other words, her  mother, who never learnt to drive,  will never want for a chauffeur now.

In a year, Road Runner will no longer be a teen. We have a pal, and a winner in her. No one could make  her change her ways, at least not her mother. She did  it all herself, mostly . The Roads Scholar!

Dear  little Road Runner never bothers anyone,( except her mum)
Just runnin’ down the road’s her  idea of having fun.

Happy Birthday Jenu.