Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Of This and That

My sister-in-law is expecting a baby girl (they live in the UK) and everyone is very excited because this is the first baby in the in-laws family. A couple of days ago, the mother-in-law was discussing what would be an appropriate gift for us to give the baby, and unsurprisingly, she suggested gold, only to be scoffed at by Nike. She then suggested we could take out a policy in the baby’s name.

“For what?” asked Nike, sounding rather horrified at the suggestion of so much money being spent on a little baby (since baby = vague concept in his mind)

“It will come in useful when the baby grows up and gets married” replied the MIL

Now, if my mum or any of my aunts had said that, I’d have bitten their heads off. But I don’t share that kind of a relationship with my MIL (yet?). So I had to deal with this with tact. I began doubtfully “Marriage? Really...”

My MIL immediately interrupted “Well, okay, not for marriage. But atleast it will come in useful for her higher education”.

I think I may yet make a feminist of my mother-in-law.


Yesterday, while talking to Dad over the phone, I asked him what Amma and Samee were doing. “They are eating munjulu” says he.

“Ack! Munjulu!” For most people, the best part of the summer is mangoes. For me, it is munjulu. In my head, munjulu are tied up with memories of countless languid, carefree childhood summers spent at my grandparents’ farm.

“Yes. Samee buys two dozen everyday and they polish off the entire two dozen between the two of them. Every day!” he replies, oblivious to the fact that I’m turning green with envy over the phone.

“Nanna, I’m coming to Vizag next weekend” I announce.

Dad is taken aback. “Don’t be silly. Nobody travels 700 kilometres to eat munjulu.”

For now, he has dissuaded me. But one weekend before the summer is over, I am going home, and I am going to gorge on munjulu till I am sick. Ha!


I have a long commute to work – 90 minutes one way. Which means I spend 3 hours in a day sitting in a car. Sigh! While going to work, I can’t talk to anyone over the phone because all my friends and family would be busy getting ready for work. It’s not so bad on the way back home, because I either talk on the phone or take a nap. But the commute has become so much more bearable ever since I hit upon the solution of listening to audio books. I was sceptical about whether I would enjoy listening to books, but it has been a surprisingly positive experience: I close my eyes and focus on the recording, and then I can imagine what is happening in the book in even more vivid detail, I can pause the recording at interesting moments to reflect upon it.

Unfortunately, the first audiobook I had downloaded was Anne Bronte’s ‘Agnes Grey’. It is a slow, dull, dreary book; and the heroine is so full of overwhelming and needless self-pity, so bloody self-righteous, such a Ms. Goody Two Shoes, so judgemental while pretending not to judge, and generally so boring that I felt like whacking her hard many times through the book. It was rather a test of patience finishing ‘Agnes Grey’. But now I am listening to ‘Anna Karenina’ (been many years since I first read it) and so far, I’ve been enjoying it.

Of course, the voice of the person reading the book also adds to the overall experience. ‘Agnes Grey’ was read by four or five different women, and while I really enjoyed listening to some of them, some voices were just unsuited for the book, and made the listening tedious. For ‘Agnes Grey’, the voices I felt were best suited for the books were soft, young voices with a British accent. By that logic, Anna Karenina should ideally be read by someone with a Russian accent (!) but so far a young lady with an American accent and an expressive manner of reading has made the Anna Karenina experience very enjoyable.

Go to www.librivox.org to listen to and download audiobooks. It’s free and its legal. You can also volunteer to be a reader there. I’m thinking of volunteering too – it sounds interesting and fun!


Anonymous said...

I googled for Munjulu. (I know.. my Telugu sucks) and we call it Nungu here. They sell it almost every night and I simply LOVE them! Especially the juicy ones. Waah, i want 2 dozens tonight :D
And thank you for the audio books tip.

Anonymous said...

I did have munjulu. Hehehe!

Ramya said...

@Subbu: Oh yeah, of course, I remember they were called nungu in Bangalore. So you do get them in Bangalore and Hyderabad too.....but the ones in Vizag are soft and tender and juicy and incomparable. To this Nike says I am deluded; my aunt says I glorify all things Vizag, but whatever! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I want to visit HYD and Vizag. It's on my to-do list before August. Please give me a to-see list and to-eat list?

smartassbride said...

Thanks for the audio book reco.

and lol @ the feminist bit! I think she knows you well :D

Ramya said...

@Subbu: Done! And I am SO glad you asked for a to-eat list. Too many people ignore that, you see.

@SAB: Hehe....yeah, I think now she's getting to know me well. I think the shock and surprise phase is over...shes just accepting this is who I am ;-)

Preeti said...

Heh. So cute! I saw munjulu here in hyd yesterday. Since I'm no way making a 700 km trip, I think I'll just have the ones here! :D

Oh and so nice to know that audio books don't suck! I pretty much assumed. Will go check out some!

Ramya said...

@Preeti: So did you have the munjulu at last? Atleast enjoy the mangoes while you are here.

And oh, dont actually get your hopes up on the audiobooks. Its just not bad as a lats option for entertainment - like when I am in the care for around 3 hours in a day with nothing else to do.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the audio book suggestion I have a commute to work and that would defintley make it less stressful:) Especially when caught between trucks on the road:)

Ramya said...

@Anon: I hope the audiobooks make your commute more bearable. I'm enjoying Anna Karenina so much that I'm not dreading the drive to work so much anymore! :-)

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