I moved to New Jersey eight months back. New Jersey is a much reviled place. Any mention of New Jersey has evoked strong reactions, predominantly negative among the Non Jersey istes that I know (which was of course everybody I knew before I moved here).
To begin with New jersey is a rather hard to take. The first sights/ smell that greet you as you drive away from the Newark Airport do not make the best of first impressions. The pharmaceutical companies that line the NJ turnpike, the total mess that is the local roads, the aggressive drivers who tailgate you on highway with 3 lanes and no traffic, all make for a very cold welcome. Driving in new jersey, that is a topic which has enough that can be said to make for a blog on its own.
Despite its very prickly exterior I feel more at home in New Jersey than I have in most other places ( well apart from Delhi, always back to Delhi :) ). After four years in the west coast I had developed some rather strange habits. I am polite (almost to a fault), I smile (and not a fake smile) at strangers that I make eye contact with in malls, on the street etc and in case you didn't notice I make eye contact with strangers. All habits that might have people pelting you with stones on a hot enough day even in Delhi.
I like to pretend that reason I moved here is the proximity to New York City but I wish that were true. My real reasons are not that glamorous. Life here is finally as it should be. The large Indian population, the anonymity that proximity to a large city bring you, the food, the people - I have found home again.
There are so many little things. I get my hair cut by a Gujju woman who rattles on about her her family, Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna. She switchs to Hindi whenever she does my hair and lectures me about the benefits of "tel maalish". I get Tutti Frutti ice cream by the gallon in the nearby Indian Grocery Store. And what is more no matter where you go in New Jersey there is always a nearby Indian grocery store.
And the people are so deliciously rude. No polite pleasantries, no conversations with strangers. I swear at drivers, argue with shop keepers and had more than a minor altercation with an extremely annoying 20 year at my gym ( my excuse - large amounts of Endorphins and she was reaaally annoying). Such travesties would never have been possible in Oregon.
To do the place justice it is not all pharma companies, potholes and drivers brimming with rage though that is defintely the first impression. New Jersey is also close to some beautiful places - Catskills, Poconos, the beaches in Delaware. There is of course the proximity to NYC which I suppose is nothing to scoff at. Now Oregon is beautiful, breathtaking, awe inspiring and perhaps an old delhi soul just does not belong there. It is a hard fact to come to terms with but though I miss the (quite a bit) the beauty of all things Oregon the place just did not click as much. Due justice to Oregon I am probably a lesser person for this and not vice-versa.
So the other day while I was borderline elbowing and jostling a well dressed lady while picking bindi in the local grocery store it hit me that I am very much at home here( for now).
Recipe - forgot to add this. This week was decidedly Indian.
Really enjoyed Morkuzhambu. For than I used white pumpkin. This recipe is closest to one I made. Whats up with folks adding rice flour etc in it. Not acceptable.