Friday, March 25, 2005

Here's the spoiler: Indian chef, Hindi pronounciation and Ingrid Bergman

Almost a week has gone by since I've blogged. I've been in this state of suspended animation and anticipation: disappointed by the parsimonious weather gods, waiting for the sun to shine, and when it finally did shine, I was too lazy to blog. So finally, out of my spring stupor, here's a recap of what happened to me in the past week:

Got to attend a cooking class for the first time in my life courtesy the cyber-camaraderie of a rising star in the Indian culinary horizon, who's a chef/restauranteur/cookbook author. I've often wondered about the audience of a cooking class, and finally my curiosity was satisfied. I have a feeling that in India the audience may have primarily been young women getting prepped up for marriage, but here most of the folks were Indian food aficianados or foodies in general of all ages who wanted to recreate their aloo samosas at home.

The chef's a fun guy, but boy can he be a diva! He kept picking on the support staff or their incompetent prep work, and said some rather mean things about the store hosting his event. I thought the support staff had put in a great effort, digging out ingredients for a cuisine they were thoroughly unfamiliar with, and didn't deserve to be picked on for roasting the cumin a little less than desirable. But then, I think otherwise, he did a great job with the class, and was able to communicate well the subtlety, simplicity and yet layers of flavours in Indian cooking. He presented me with his book as well, and I thought it was really well-written, very personal, and presented cooking in India within a specific multi-ethnic milieu, not an artificial construct like "Indian cooking".

Then I got into an argument about correct pronounciation in Hindi. I'm a bit of a nitpicker at times (rarely, mostly I'm quite laidback and easygoing) and when folks who should know better start arguing for incorrect usage of words, it kind of gets to me. I don't see myself as a linguistic authority in Hindi (or an authority on any damn thing), but surely 12 years of schooling in Hindi, a year of college education in Hindi, a couple of years of being girlfriend to a Hindi literature groupie, another couple of years of girlfriend-dom to an Urdu snob, and being friends for years with an Urdu journalist/Hindi wiz should count for something. Apart from the fact that I've studied and worked with very knowledgable Hindi speakers and writers.

Which still doesn't make me infallible in the language, I still live and learn, but at least gives me the sense to differentiate between the colloquial usage of a word and its standard pronounciation. But then, who am I kidding? One of the reasons I don't speak any Hindi with most Indians here is because their Hindi is so absolutely appalling, it's painful to hear them speak the language.

So anyway, to round off, I watched a movie last night with Cary Grant(love him) and Ingrid Bergman (love her even more) and I think it was Spellbound (didn't catch the opening credits). I think I had seen this film many many years ago, back in the days when Doordarshan used to telecast old Hollywood classics every Friday night. I had seen the other Ingrid Bergman classic "A Brief Encounter" on Indian state television as well. In fact, come to think of it, I've probably seen more classical Hollywood than most of my American friends, even the film students (I know "A Brief Encounter" is David Lean and not strictly Hollywood). What I didn't see as a kid are American TV shows, which is where S is light years ahead of me. You name the show and he's seen them all, CHIPS, Sesame Street, Melrose Place.

Now, I'll have to stop, otherwise I won't be able to get ready on time for two more blogworthy events. Watch the space!

7 Comments:

Blogger Urmea said...

Speaking of American TV shows - don't forget Mission Impossible... LOL!
Oh, and what was the Hindi word in question?

9:54 PM  
Blogger Jabberwock said...

You misremember...Brief Encounter doesn't have Ingrid Bergman in it, it's Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson and it's veddy veddy British.

6:35 AM  
Anonymous Jill said...

Hi. I would like to make friends with people who enjoy indian cookery. I've joined this site (indian cookery) to try to meet some new friends but I wondered if you knew of any other such sites.
Many thanks

5:23 PM  
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7:57 AM  
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11:46 PM  
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2:29 AM  

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