Food for thought: Of seer-activists and convict-learners: The many shades of people
One would scarce imagine that a saffron-robed saint of a renowned Hindu matha would join activists and farmers fighting against big polluters. This wonder of wonders is actually happening in Udupi, a small city-town on the west coast of India’s southern state, Karnataka. The pontiff has been fighting for adequate measures against a polluting coal-based power generating plant in the area, along with activists and ordinary folks of the town. He even suggested that the administrators try living in the affected area so that they know the people’s difficulties. He has said he will go on an indefinite fast if the administration does not take things seriously within six months.
Elsewhere in India, scores of prisoners have been enrolling in open universities to continue their education. This year, the Karnataka State Open University has enrolled close to fifty students from a single jail in the city of Mysore. The state government pays the fees, while the university conducts study classes in the jail once a fortnight. The jail authorities assist in completing the formalities, including getting the proof of date of birth, which is mandatory, and which many convicts do not have.
Food for the palate: Ade [‘a’ as in ‘about’ and ‘de’ as ‘day’]: a shallow fried rice-lentil crepe
Soak together 4 ounces of raw rice, 2 ounces of split red gram, 1 ounce each of split black gram and split Bengal gram, and ¼ ounce of fenugreek seeds. After 4-5 hours, grind the soaked rice and lentils to a coarse batter of pouring consistency. Make sure to grind about 8 red chillis with the mixture. Add about ½ a teaspoon salt to the batter, and a big pinch of asafoetida powder. Let ferment for 4-5 hours. Then use batter to make ade. [Can be refrigerated after fermentation and used over a few days].
Pour out a ladleful on a hot pan, spread as thin as you can, sprinkle ½ a teaspoonful of oil to cover the ade, and around it. When sides brown, flip over the ade, wait for a few seconds till brown spots appear on the underside as well, and eat hot. Goes with any pickle or chutney, plain table butter or jaggery [take a bite of the jaggery and pop in a piece of the ade or powder the jaggery if you prefer. Viscous jaggery is also available in some places].