BREAKFAST WITH MAMATA-DIDI!

Breakfast with the Media along with welcoming new members into the Goa Trinamool Congress…wooing togetherness in politics through breakfasts and tea-time spreads! Livening up Goan media life and times.

By Tara Narayan

Eating is Fun / Eating is Yuck! – A variety food column

DASSERA-DEEPAVALI season this year has hardly impinged on my consciousness! Whatever ladoo I bought at the government’s Eat Right Mela I have distributed to friends and whoever I like – and now I never want to eat another ladoo or a sweet again, although I must confess that depressed though I am lately, I cheered up and took aninterest in these exquisite mini-glasses of falooda being offered at Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP’s press conference tea-party for the media at the Cidade da Goa (still my favourite resort in Panaji although so much has changed) on November 1, 2021.
Falooda in mini-glasses, what a good idea! Forgot to take a click! Of course they had a whole lot of stuff apart from this mini-glass falooda, and I noticed how pastries and savoury tidbits are getting smaller but more on the nutritious side nowadays even for media people and am feeling cheered! Other good things were the most agreeable coleslaw sandwiches, corn nuggets, and some forgettable stuff. The press conference was snappy, over too soon, with Mr Kejriwal in a hurry to cut short needlessly inquisitive questions. He has ceased to be media friendly!
In comparison Trinamool Congress’ Mamata-didi is a treat and her Breakfast with the Media in still on my mind. I suppose some egghead in her I-PAC marketing team decided to take a leaf out of American politics, where politicians are happy to do breakfast with media people by way of starting off their day. Here in Goa too it was Breakfast with Media, an invite from All India Trinamool Congress chairperson Mamata Banarjee at the International Centre Goa on Saturday, October 30, 2021.
It was not like what expected or imagined! It was not actually breakfasting in the company of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata-didi during her three-day cramped campaign visit to Goa (seeing how her Goa Trinamool Congress is seeking seats in the Assembly election coming up). But she was generously offering breakfast, lunch, dinner to media, visitors, well-wishers at the ICG restaurant ‘Spice’ with a separate cosy dining-cum- attached for very small meets.
The ICG garden grounds are always a delight to charm any blues away for me! But it seemed Mamata-didi would be having her breakfast in her room while the media had their breakfast buffet laid out for them at one of the lawns under a shamiana. Only after that there was time to indulge media people who wanted to ask her any questions, but before that the Goan musical artist Francis De Tuem had to sing a song for Mamata-didi’s appreciation before he was inducted into the TMC family, along with a few more Goans like Tara Kerkar who is also smitten by the fighting spirit of West Bengal’s chief minister. A role model to follow obviously!
More and more are coming around to thinking that Mamata-didi has a formidable spine and would never bow or crawl before BJP’s dadagiri in West Bengal or Delhi. We’ve already seen the feisty politician as if to the manner born in action in West Bengal, despite the boorish Modi-Shah duo’s best efforts to rile her unfairly.
BUT to stay with Mamata-didi Breakfast with Media last week, what was there for breakfast? Very decent: Bowl full of fruit and cut banana pieces, poha, idli-sambar and chutney, omlets and bread white and brown, butter, boiled eggs, tea and coffee. For a change from my usual masala oatmeal at home, here in memory of didi I stuffed omlets between two slices of bread and appreciated the very good coffee in eco-friendly white cardboard cups. Tasted a bit of old favourite batat-poha and tried to eat a smashed boiled egg with the coconut chutney…I can be stupidly déjà vu.
Chatted with someone who said he was Mamata’s security man and I asked if I could ask Mamata-didi if she was at any point of life married and he scowled, no, don’t ask such private questions. Didi may walk out after giving me an angry, dirty look. But this is what the pulp media of West Bengal says, I said, and he offered, “I think for a brief time she was married to an advocate but he died.” That’s it, nothing more, lips were sealed.
One may not ask rude questions to politicians in India be they women or men, never mind that abroad in the countries of the west one may ask just about anything and one may or may not get a reply depending on the good humour or bad humour of the politician. They’re public figures for heaven’s sake and look at how the British royal family’s private linen is being ventilated currently for the world to take note of and wonder if this is the end of the royal monarchy in the UK (high time)!
Anyway, Mamta-didi turned up on time at about 10.30am and a boring Q & A session got under way and was soon over. There was no question of sharing a private coffee with her of course so I just asked if she was aware about how the greatest crisis facing the sub-continent is pollution and degraded environment. She agreed the subject is very “serious” and she is keenly aware of how West Bengal’s delta areas where the royal Bengal tiger roams, is going under water steadily – that’s because both India and China are hell-bent on big technology constructions up in the fragile ecology of the mountains of the Himalaya, where our main water resources drain from.
Maybe if Mamata Banerjee makes it the prime minister’s hot seat in 2014 the first thing she will do is stop all development of the mountains and hills of the sub-continent and push for reforestation in a big way to restore the country’s coastlines and total environment. I hope she makes it as PM of India and I’m alive to see this! I dare say she would be good for India and won’t get drunk on power like our friend Modi who’s increasingly on an incorrigible lush roll. Well, enough of wishful thinking here!
WHICH reminds me anew about the very nice tea-time treat laid our courtesy AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal at the Cidade da Goa press conference tea-party mentioned before at the start of this week’s column, I am wondering about his third guarantee of free pilgrimage trips for all Goans to Ayodhya, Vailankkani, Ajmer, Shirdi. You may go and register with AAP right away if you’re interested!
This is to say I will not be voting for AAP. Not because I do not appreciate all the good work Mr Kejriwal has done in Delhi on education and health sectors, after all he is the chief minister of Delhi since 2015 and before that an IIT-ian, civil servant, RTI activist who won the Ramon Magsaysay award and lots more. But the slim, diminutive guy has come a long way and thinks nothing of inducting noted scamsters and criminals like former Goan minister Dayanand Narvekar (who got Rajan Narayan beaten up when he was ‘oHeraldo’ editor) into AAP.
It’s kind of full circle. Funny, at his press conference he said there was no dearth of money for doing good work – there will be money enough once corrupt politicians are put in jail! It is this money he saves and uses for his good Samaritan works like treating people to pilgrimages. I must confess I do have some respect for Arvind Kejriwal and a Delhi friend of mine tells me half the time the Centre won’t let him do the good work he wants to do, “He is not allowed to function like a good chief minister!”
WELL, smoke on that, my friends and make up your minds when it comes to casting your vote – for Goa, always in the interests of Goa. One think Rahul Gandhi has right is in Goa the environment is the most important thing and it must be saved at any cost. He’s got a good head on his and what’s more he has got a good team vouching for him for once in Goa. The Congress is on a tighten belt these days and I’m not complaining about the excellent tea they serve along with good batatvada at it press conferences! I may have said it before, the Congress is about batatavada while the BJP is a samosa with all kinds of kachrapatti filling it up sometimes. Amka naka samosa, okay, it’s bad for my health… give me a thin-coated old-fashioned batatvada any day.

BITTER-SWEET
DEEPAVALI OFFERINGS…

WITH the economy in a mess it is unlikely that it is going to be a happy Deepavali for many and in any case is hot high on Deepavali or Diwali sentiments, Hindu Goa prefers to celebrate Chovoth more elaborately and Tulsi Vivah. Still, with Goa’s growing migrant settlers from the northern states Diwali notes are creeping in and are manifested mostly by firecracker bursting at street level – something which is abhorrent for many! The entire fireworks business itself is now looked down upon for the noise pollution and litter it creates in public spaces…and there is a time window after which all bursting of crackers must be illegal surely?
The Covid-19 lockdowns have put a lot of fear into people’s hearts, especially with the seniors, that even sweets are no longer invested in too much. Most homes make their own homespun ladoo using desi ghee and khadi shakar and dry fruit. Savouries like chivda, chakri and shankarpali are appreciated in small quantities.
Curiously the market place is sporting fresh stocks of the season, namely pressed and puffed rice (fov and kurmara) which are popular seasonal items, the red parched rice fov is welcome by connoisseurs for its natural sweeter taste. Soaked in dairy or coconut milk and sweetened with a bit of date or palm jaggery or honey, spiked with elaichi powder – it makes for a filling as well as light evening meal. There is also batat-fov and many housewives like to use softened fov in many recipes.
Amongst the pavement market fare we found this pile of karit (chirate in Marathi), miniature bitter melon which every Goan household will buy and Diwali morning it is crushed at the doorstep and family members taste its bitterness on their palate, after which a nugget of sweet something take away the bitter taste! Perhaps a symbolic ritual in Goa to make everyone realize that life is all about bitter notes which must be mitigated by sweet notes!

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