Sunday, January 13, 2008

iron maiden, pork, st edmunds

This post touches on three significant things in my unnamed narrator’s life: Iron Maiden, pork, and St Edmunds.

iron maiden When we were students at St Edmunds School, Shillong, one of our main interests as pimply teenagers was rock music. In those pre-liberalization, pre-internet, pre-MTV, and pre-cellphone days, the only way to broaden our horizons was to trawl small cassette shops in the city’s Police Bazar and Bara Bazar areas for pirated cassettes (on labels like CD4, Michael, and Peacock) that came from Nepal and the Far East. Many bands and many albums were unearthed this way (with one purchased cassette being borrowed by 10 others), but one band and one singer stood tall above the rest: Iron Maiden, and their vocalist Bruce ‘air raid siren’ Dickinson, who many in our school worshipped.

They never ever graced our small town, but now, they'll be playing in India for the second time in two years. If all goes well I’ll be at the show on February 1st in Mumbai with a few old school friends. Maiden are starting their 2008 Somewhere Back In Time tour from Mumbai, and will be flying in in style: on a customized Boeing 757 that will carry the band, the crew, and the equipment, and that will be piloted by Dickinson himself (who is a trained commercial pilot). Now that’s doing it your own way! The plane is currently in service with the charter airline Astraeus, and has been officially christened by the band as "Ed Force Once" (after the band's mascot Eddie).

Like Scorpions last month, Maiden may be coming 20 years too late, but it’s just in time for fans like us: one last chance to be a schoolboy again! More will follow on this great band. And i'm sure my narrator will take a break from running his restaurant in Shillong to go see them.

pork My narrator buys his pork from the Laitumkhrah market when in Shillong and from a shop in Green Park when in Delhi. And likes to make it with bamboo shoots, garlic, and naga chillies. Here’s the ridiculously simple recipe. But you need to care about what you’re cooking: that’s how it’ll taste good.

1 kilo fresh pork (preferably from the pig’s thighs) with a good amount of fat
a fistful of crushed garlic
10-15 ground green chillies or 1-2 ground naga chillies (it’s supposed to make you sweat!)
a bowlful of bamboo shoots (best if it’s the grated type which has been kept a few months)
salt to taste

Heat a karhai, add the pork (cut into medium-sized pieces) and cook over a medium flame, stirring from time to time. The meat will change colour and water will start coming out from it: add the salt then and keep stirring. As the water starts drying up and the oil starts coming out from the fat (that’s why you need the fat), add the garlic, and then after say 5–10 minutes add the chillies, stirring frequently. Cook this way till the meat is almost done, then add the bamboo shoots and cook for about 5–10 minutes more.

It’s important to keep stirring frequently otherwise the garlic and chillies and bamboo shoots get stuck to the bottom of the pan. Serve hot with rice, moong dal boiled with salt and a bit of haldi, and a salad with lemon squeezed into it. Personally, more than the meat, I like the oil with the pieces of garlic and bamboo shoot in it: it’s divine with rice. It’ll taste better the next morning, and try having for breakfast a bowl of rice with the pork and a fried egg, and a cup of tea.

st edmunds My narrator and me are both products of St Edmunds School and College, Shillong. Here are some photos of the college campus (photos courtesy Soumyadip C’s cuttingthechai blog).

The road between the college library and third field.

The college library.

My economics major classroom.

You might be a member of Gen X, Y, or Z (or even A,B, or C), but I’m a member of Gen O! Read all about it here. This appeared in The Asian Age’s Delhi supplement, the Delhi Age, on January 8, and the newspaper article has a photo of me (taken at the IHC programme last month) and a quote from me beside it. Having worked as a sub-editor at one point in my meandering life, seeing myself in a layout was a moment of acute post-post-modernist irony about content and the nature of its dissemination. There, I can write stuff like that too!

2007 was a year of obituaries: Shakti Bhatt, Tejeshwar Singh, and now Ashok Saikia. A friend of my father’s from Delhi’s Ramjas College, he made possible my first job in Delhi in 1999. Like Shakti and TS, he went too early.

This to be confirmed: my publishers will finally be having a small book-launch for Jet City Woman at the New Delhi World Book Fair in Pragati Maidan on 6th February at 4pm. We’re still looking for someone who’ll ‘release’ the book. Those of you who can, do try and make it, along with your friends, relatives, and pets. Will confirm the time and date soon.

P.S. If you'd like to watch Maiden in Mumbai, you can get your tickets here.


Anonymous said...

your book is merely pulp fiction. it isn't a novel by any stretch of imagination or definition. stop being so ridiculous, obsessive and juvenile about it. you seem to be more interested in yourself than literature. this is what non-literary writers betray. you are merely proving your frivolity. grow up.

Ankush Saikia said...

dear anonymous: thank you for your interest in my book and me :)