Fiction Fragment: In which Kantha gives her Muesli

She wonders how careful she has to be. Three years in some foreign land isn’t a long time. But some habits change. The body becomes more vulnerable to dust. Though, in her memory, pollen in India never really disturbed her. But more than matters of immunity, she has these sudden panic attacks. What if her friends catch a tiny glint of an foreign accent. Ten years back, if you had an American accent, people assumed you were rich enough to travel, and that you caught an accent on a transit flight via New York. Now, they think you work in a call centre.

At home, her parents have left for work. Kantha, the wrinkled maid asks her what she wants for breakfast. For three days, everyone thought she’d be homesick for idlis and dosais. So that’s what she ate. But her tongue’s yearnings have changed. She prefers muesli. She tells Kantha she wants muesli. Kantha wonders why Pushpavalli wants mooku-shaliMooku-shali (Tamil): Snot/ Phelgm .

She explains that it’s just that crumbling thing in the box to be added with milk. Kantha, brimming with love for the girl who has come back after three years, adds boiling hot milk. Pushpavalli stares at the soggy mess. Unable to explain that it’s cold milk she wanted, she attempts forcing the hot soggy concoction down her throat. Suddenly, mooku-shali is the right word for it.



Filed under Poetry and Fiction

24 Responses to Fiction Fragment: In which Kantha gives her Muesli

  1. I can see the shali on my screen. Vividness is not always a virtue.

  2. omg! omg! omg! I was just staring at the packet of muesli on my kitchen shelf yesterday and thinking that I quite like this and wondering whether I will get the same kind back home or not! OMG!

  3. Hah, and you are allegedly suffering from a Writer’s Block!!

    I used to always call the Sitafal/ Custard Apple Mooku-Shali Pazham and took immense pleasure in letting people know that just as they bit into one.

  4. and thats how N got her mues!

  5. LOL :).. isnt this what you had to go through when you came here? :p

  6. Personal Experience?

  7. ammani

    Hilarious! I have had soggy cornflakes on several occasions when I was in India. And now, the very thought is revolting.

  8. My mum cannot understand my love for oatmeal. She would harp on about how I could eat something which looked like cooked cat-sick. And now this post brings about stunning images of cat-sick and mooku-shali in a bowl. Thanks a ton, Neha.

  9. Naren

    Reminds me of a kindergarten chum called Mooku-shali Ramanarayanan – used to keep licking Mooku-shali!

  10. DoZ

    After a week of idli and dosa, on the flight back I was almost close to tears when I was given a ‘continental’ breakfast… Ah the joys of a stale croissant :) Good post!

  11. DoZ,

    It’s dosaI. Now, say that again.

  12. Uma

    Yuck I refuse to read a story on mooku bloody shalli. Anyway, are you sure mookushalli also translates as phelgm?

  13. dipali

    Glad to have you back, Neha. Enjoyed the muesli!

  14. Funny.

    I’m blog-crawling tonight. Might drop by again soon. :D

  15. Only post featuring mooku-shali & idli in the breakfast menu… hilarious!

  16. Thou hath dareth to sully the name of mine brand. Thou shalt be taken to court!

  17. km


    (@Nilu: It’s “Dosai” only for those living south of Karnataka :))

  18. DoZ does. Well, did.

  19. Interesting one…

    [Now, they think you work in a call centre]
    Very true… Particularly if you look younger.

  20. @km:
    Dose in Karnataka, Dosa to its east!

  21. Eww… I already hate oats (not muesli) – the texture and consistency, the taste, everything. And now when I force myself to eat it, I will think of mooku-shali. YUCK!!!

  22. haha! well written.

  23. Lovely ! Well written !