Sunday, June 08, 2014

Ladies' fingers twirl mustaches of men from Madras

Perhaps it was the six years of graduate schooling that has made me pay attention to the paranthetical comments even in the regular publications.  Like in The Economist the other night; there I was in bed reading through the lengthy special on Asian businesses when I laughed out aloud, and re-read the following more than twice and laughed every single time:
Hyundai Motors is becoming as globally minded as Samsung. Near Chennai, a southern Indian city with perhaps the world’s highest incidence of moustaches, it has invested $2 billion over a decade and a half in a factory that builds a car every 68 seconds.
A dull and boring editor would have deleted "a southern Indian city with perhaps the world’s highest incidence of moustaches."  I am so thankful it was retained.

Not that "the world’s highest incidence of moustaches" is among women--that will be one for the record books!  Men, especially the younger ones, in that part of the world sport mustaches.  (And older ones too, like this guy!)  I, too, was no different, as this photo ID of the FOB me shows ;)

Damn, that is one impressive mustache! ;)

Those aside comments, the footnotes, the words within parentheses, are, sometimes, worth more than the lengthy essays themselves.

It was a similar experience today when I read that:
(Cotton and okra, by the way, come from the same plant family.)
Who woulda thunk that!

It was in an essay on, get this, Indian cuisine in America's deep south!
Talking about the cultural linkages between the American South and India is not much of a stretch. At the very least it’s agriculturally defensible. Both were once colonial economies built, in part, on cotton farming. That enterprise expanded rapidly in India during the Civil War, when the Confederate States of America attempted a trade embargo. The C.S.A. believed that Great Britain, dependent on Southern cotton for textile manufacturing, would—when faced with a restricted flow of raw cotton imports—knuckle under economic pressure and support their war effort. The ploy didn’t work. Instead, Great Britain began importing more cotton from India. Decades would pass before country club Southerners began wearing madras fabrics, imported from the Bay of Bengal port city of that name.
Also analogous is a devotion to okra. (Cotton and okra, by the way, come from the same plant family.) Now that I have found my footing in Indian restaurants, I order okra fried, roasted, and stewed, and when I eat it I’m as likely to think of my small-town Georgia upbringing as I am to conjure the last Bollywood extravaganza I saw on the flat screens at Taste of India.
The essay ends with a link to this video on two cooks--"Atlanta-based chefs Asha Gomez and Steven Satterfield discuss their "two Souths" - Kerala, India, and the Southeastern United States."

An end-note: I wonder why I suddenly feel hungry now!


Ramesh said...

Who's that "handsome" young man in the photo ?

As Her Majesty would quote (an old English proverb) - " A man without a moustache is like a cup of tea without sugar"

Sriram Khé said...

And we turned around and dumped all that tea into the harbor, kicked out the Queen, went with coffee, and live with a nagging suspicion that men with mustaches are always up to something criminal ;)