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Entries in nostalgia (31)


I love you.... "Rasna"

There was a time and place where an average summer morning would start with the temprature at 82F and by mid afternoon would hit 110 F. We were used to measuring it in C then in Chennai and those numbers definitely seemed smaller, and were easy to get used to. Never even think of the max temperatures.. we could see the road side tar start to melt. As kids we have scooped up semi molten tar to make small bouncy balls to use for cricket games. 

As a kid growing up in an Agraharam type environment (lets translate that to a Temple enclave), the drinks of choice for cooling down the system on hot summer evening were :

1. Water that was stored in a red clay pot with some cardamom husks in it. There was no refridgerator during our childhood days. Only when we were almost in middle school did the concept catch up. 

2. Really watered down buttermilk with some curry leaves and hing (asafoedita) thrown in aka "neermor"

3. The occasional "panagam" which was water from 1 above, but with some jaggery, cardamom, saffron etc. (sweet spices) 

Refridgerators and ice cubes became pletiful in every house all of a sudden, thanks to fridges becoming a commodity product and every family wanting it as a convenince or status symbol or both. There were two types of kids in my neighborhood. Kids who could give you "ice water" when you went to their house and kids who didnt! Let's just say that "ice water" kids were chosen to host cricket games with their street electric box as the chosen stumps... what I am trying to say is that other issues with street cricket were overlooked in favor of ice water!

That is when something dropped from the skies. It was called "Trinka"! It came in Orange, Grape and Lime flavors if memory serves me right. You got this packet of powder, had to prepare a concentrate with this powder by mixing it with a sugar syrup and then store it in the fridge. Then you could dilute that concentrate with water and ice and you had a refreshing drink. Eventually they did away with the powder and came up with a liquid concentrate bottle. 

We were Trinka's biggest fans. My mother was not a fan given the trinka concentrate I used to make took up a lot of sugar and the thing took a lot of space in the fridge. Eventually even the adults in the family were won over and it was a good "ice breaker". Trinka lowered down blood pressure levels of folks in the house on hot summer evenings. 

Then came competition. A new brand of concentrate for mixing flavored water came into market. This one had a packet of powder and a liquid that had to be mixed into a sugar syrup to make your own concentrate and it had a catchy name. RASNA! The advertising campaign for Rasna was a notch above Trinka. Cute kids were drinking Rasna and their parents were making it for them.. and they always ended the ads with kids smacking their lips and saying "I love you Rasna!"

We were and probably still are a loyal family. We don't switch brands easily. There is definitely a loyalty gene that runs in the family. So we stayed with Trinka even if its market share dropped. We would serve Trinka to folks and not exactly contradict them when they told us "thanks for the Rasna".. these were days before Coke and Pepsi were household names in the desi soft drink market. You could get Thumbs up (grape), Goldspot (orange) or Limca (lime) or the odd Goli Soda (fizz water). Then one day curiosity trumped loyalty and a packet of Rasna was obtained. It was tried and initially found to be too sour compared to Trinka. Then the young scientists in the family realized that this one needed different ratios for sugar and water and the "kosuru" water or sugar we used to add was not enough to compensate for rounding errors  in this case.

Rasna was given a second chance and this time it was a hit. By the time this happened, I was too busy studying for high school and before you know it, Mishrambu and Baba Tandai replaced Rasna. Used to come back from Banaras with bottles of Mishrambu to handle the Madras summer. We also switched to two milk based drink essenses which were bought from this store right between the LIC building and Alankar theater. One was Rose flavored and the other was Badam (almond) flavored. They were delicious and between those and Mishrambu.. Rasna was almost forgotten.

Fast forward a decade or more and we had a little Jr. craving something in summer. We were not going to give her carbonated drinks and she got tired of "Caprisun". So we went to a local Indian store and bought Rasna to give her a taste of something from my childhood. She loved it! We had five or six packets made into concentrate and that was it.

Why all this nostalgia for Rasna now?

Well, recently we have had a few hot days to put it mildly and when I came home, my hand was itching to find something other than water and ice. Have been mixing "Emergen-C" after yoga classes with cold water and ice. Hot summer day is one thing. Coming out of a 120F hot and humid room into a house that is showing 85F can be a little interesting. You never stop sweating post yoga class.  

San happened to be at the Indian store and I asked her to get a few Rasna packets. She came home to report the following conversation with the local Indian store guy

San : Where do you have Rasna?

Store kid (apparently in his 20's) : Maam, what is Rasna?

San : thought !@$%^&^%^@$^%&  and came home

at home :

Me: seriously, he asked you WHAT IS RASNA?

San : Apparenty Rasna is not a thing anymore!

Me : What is the world coming to? Okay, even if Rasna is not a thing anymore, how can a person in a desi store in his 20's not know what Rasna is?! 

Have to see if Rasna is still a thing in India these days.

In the meantime, we have to find a new concentrate that has the right ratio of sugar to orange that will not just help cool down on hot summer evenings, but bring back happy thoughts!


Golpeando en el mismo lugar.. 

During my dancing days, used to listen to a lot of Latin music. One of my favorite artists was and is Franco de Vita and one of my favorite songs is "Golpeando en el mismo lugar".. the funny thing is that we have a similar phrase in Tamil.. "Patta kaalaye padum" which translates to "the leg that gets hit, get hits again".  

Why bring all this up? It is all in a day's thoughts inside my hamster brain. 

Recently, I tried to catch a falling heavy lens with my foot and paid a painful price for it. Then the same thing repeated. My glass lunch box, which is reasonably heavy was in the trunk. While holding it in its flimsy plastic bag and trying to close the trunk, the bag basically ruptured and my lunch box was going to hit the floor. I tried to catch it with my foot.. same foot. Now the right toe area is bruised and hurts when any weight is put on it.

This didn't stop me from going to Yoga class the last couple of days, just that my favorite poses become painful experiences. Nevertheless, I did try and sit through some poses and finish the class. 

Do not know how long it will take to heal. So far using Tiger Balm patches and warm compresses to help manage it.  So far it is getting better. 

The jet lag added to my problems. Recently I have figured out the perfect way to beat jet lag.. or so I thought. Come home on a 40 hour day and go to Yoga class before going to bed. That gets the sleep cycle back. However, what I am learning is that there is two pieces to jet lag. Sleep timings and stomach request timings. Do not know what it takes to adjust the stomach rumble times. Given the tummy wants things at odd times, ignoring that request and sleeping is not a good idea. The stomach acid catches up with you and at odd times. Have to do some more research on beating this part of jet lag. 

The only good thing that came out of this accident? I put that old CD back on the CD player and listened to it. Brought back so many memories from college days! 


The diva

Today was summer cleaning in the house. We have a van full of stuff that is going to Salvation army or goodwill store tomorrow. 

While going through the kids rooms came across this microphone karaoke thingy.. brought back so many memories.. 

So we went and did "baby photos" at night today to look at old videos.. got this gem!

The little one was 22 days old when this was taken and Jr. had just turned 3 a week before this video was taken. 

They grow up fast!


When the time comes..

A few days ago, was going through a horrible time with the nose bleeds and all the other symptoms that come with an allergy attack. Thanks to all the cotton type stuff floating around in the air, a bee that decided to sting my leg and the temperature fluctuations in general. 

It was impossible to sleep with all the pain and I definitely did not want to go and get yet another prescription for Amoxycilin 500 and go through a cycle of switching sinus problems to stomach problems which is usually followed by a week long diet of only rice and yogurt to bring back the good bacteria in my stomach. Normally would go do Yoga just when the nose starts getting blocked and things would get back on track.

This time it was past that point and had to suffer through it. With all that pain, was trying the many tricks to just get to sleep. First it was patting myself on the back just like my mother used to do when same thing used to happen as a kid. That didn't work. 

Then suddenly out of the blue, was reminded of a song that my father used to play on a Philips Gramaphone record player to put me to sleep.. did a search on youtube and found one instance of the exact same song by M.S. Subbulakshmi and voila, was dozing off. What a divine voice! Even for someone who did not understand the words as a kid, the imploring voice always used to put me to sleep and calm me down!

Have been listening to this song a few times in the last week just reminiscing about the sound of that player and the needle moving slowly towards the center of the black disk in the glow of the night light when we were little kids. 

I am soo going to go buy a turntable and see if my dad still has those records in the attic and play them for Jr. and the little one!

Yesterday there was a weird dream. I am in bed dying. For some strange reason, everyone is around me and they know I have very little time, but there is a struggle and I am having difficulty letting go.. Then my sister, Jr. and the little one all sing this song in chorus and I let go and die. It was one of those dreams that actually made me sweat and sit up in bed! Funny thing was that I am older but all of them look the way they do today!

It was  a dream.. so whatever! Played that song for the kids today and said "if someday I am lying on my death bed, please sing this song for me and will leave this planet a happy man!" The kids got all pissed off for my mentioning death beds and said "we will never ever sing this song". 

Now I have my work cut out for me.. 


From Lanka Gate to Visvesvarayya...

As far as trips down the nostalgic memory lanes go, this is the biggest for me!

After almost two decades, visiting the place where this boy became man, or at least half a man if my classmates would agree..

The video says it all, but here are some pictures as well of the brief ride into the past!

Oh, what a trip!