Saturday, September 18, 2010

Jimi Hendrix, Mutton Dalcha, and Small People's Feminism

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This one is for small men.  Small, not in physical size, or organ length, but in relevance, or significance, as in common, lay menfolk, who have no claims to greatness either by their lineage, or their doings in this lifetime.  Small and insignificant in the eyes of the establishment. Small like Kafka.  Like Pratip Guha of Kolkata who committed suicide at age 71 protesting the misuse of gender biased laws.  Small, sometimes, like me.

Today is the 40th death anniversary of Jimi Hendrix.  Many of the people I meet and work with these days have grown up on music that is Metallica onwards, and know little about Hendrix beyond the fact that he was a legendary guitarist, much like I know about Wes Montgomery or Blind Willie Mctell (I am lying, but only to lend perspective,and also, the Metallica link is for those who know about Hendrix, Morisson, Joplin and Lennon, but have not heard the brilliance of metal).  I am not alone in my belief that he was the first heavy metal guitarist, many of his songs bordering on thrash and shred. You can read my post on The Operative Notes blog on this occasion by clicking here.  Though a legend of all times and a tall person, he ended his life without feeling any of the largeness that we attribute to him.  He died a small man.

Hendrix died at the age of 27 from a drug and alcohol overdose that caused him to choke on his own vomit.  His last years were bereft of happiness, personal success, or creative satisfaction.  This was what drugs and alcohol did to one of the most (if not the most) influential figures of modern music.

This year saw a slew of new releases from the posthumous Hendrix vaults, some compilations and re-engineers, but some with new unreleased material, like the Valleys of Neptune (you can read my review here), and the anthology of unreleased versions, covers and alternate takes of his best from across his career, West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology.

We have a party on the weekend, and Sabitha is going to do the chicken.  After inspecting our stores, she declared our spices to be unfit, since "they have neither the color nor the heat," and will use her own.  My humble offer of a tested dalcha recipe flew out the window like a softly muttered cuss word, and into the room the women came and went, looking up so that they didn't need to look down.  Faced with this humiliating indifference, I decided to reproduce the dalcha recipe on this blog.  Thank god for the internet, the last refuge from feminism, especially for small men!!

You will need
Chana Dal 300 g (the original recipe that we worked from called for 500 g)
Diced lamb 250 g
Ginger 1 inch piece chopped fine
Garlic 6 cloves chopped fine
Green chili 2 chopped
Cinnamon 1 inch stick powdered
Green cardamom 2 powdered
Onion 2 medium size, sliced fine, fried crisp
Onion 1 medium chopped fine
Juice of 1 lime
Coriander powder 1 tsp
Red Chili powder 1 tsp
Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
Oil (groundnut or olive oil) 3 tbsp
Salt to taste

1. Wash the dal in several changes of water. Soak it for at least 30 minutes. Add a pinch of turmeric, a pinch of sugar (skip if not to taste), and pressure cook for three whistles. Mash once cool and keep aside.
2. Clean the lamb. Do not wash in water, use a damp towel to wipe clean. Pat dry
3. Heat oil in a pressure cooker, add the chopped onion, fry till brown, add the ginger, followed by garlic, followed by green chili, followed by mutton. Stir frequently till mutton browns and oil separates. Add remaining turmeric powder, chili powder and coriander powder. Stir for another 2 minutes.
4. Add 1 cup of water or enough to just cover the mutton, and pressure cook for 3 whistles.
5. Once cooled, add the dal, the fried sliced onions, cinnamon and cardamom powder, lime juice and salt. Cook on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Serve hot.

Click here for the complete Mutton Dalcha post.  I had the good fortune of having this rudimentary urban singleton recipe featured by Mona over at the blog event this year for Bakr Eid, a host of really yummy entries for the festive season, all speaking Hyderabadi!!  You can find the page here.

Feminism is not about putting men in aprons and making them cook dalcha by themselves.  It is about achieving gender equality in a world where the status quo is masculinity or patriarchy (I like the word virism, since it smacks of the male obsession with virility as a value, and also rings of the sanskrit veera and virya).  Having been a close spectator (victim, victim, boley kabeera) to the misuse of gender specific empowerment, I have had occasion to reflect on this matter and have come to recognize it as a major factor in strife and inequity in our society.  How profound.

A large part of the feminist movement is focused about what is perceived to be different needs of women compared to men, a line of thinking that is itself entrenched in gender specific roles and functions, one that presupposes and establishes their weaker and smaller physical stature, and the inherent vulnerability of women.

To cut it short, I would like to proclaim that I am a feminist too, albeit a small one, and am all in favor of equal rights for men and women, provided the women don't mind.  While on the subject of refuge from feminism, for those who can read Bengali, here is an interesting editorial from the Kolkata daily, Sakalbela, on the same subject. 

If you liked this, you may also like my posts on the life and/or work of

Janis Joplin
John Lennon
Bob Dylan
Paul McCartney
Melody Gardot
Joan Baez 

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