Rare Umno lawmaker in KL, Johari offers chance to rejuvenate UMNO in the Federal Territories keep talking to grassroots rejuvenation of urban MalaysThe best New Year greeting has come to me from a friend. It consists of two lines from T S Eliot’s Four Quartets: “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, And next year’s words await another voice.” We shall see which voice prevails.JOHARI MOST FASCINATING PERSON OF 2013 OFFERS CHANCE TO REJUVENATE UMNO IN THE FEDERAL TERRITORIES HAS become the last hope of in its bitter struggle against the rise Brain dead FT Umno chief Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor and FT Umno deputy chief Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin leaders no longer believe they can win in 2018 they never pursued Pakatan with the ferocity it displays against DAP. This is not merely desire for retribution; it is also evidence of worry. The past few days have been particularly depressing to UMNO, but Johari hope that DAP can still be stopped in FT seats will be a small change in the larger game.In theory, this strategy has its merits. Johari has one asset in common. DAP are outsiders who promise to cleanse the gutters of DBKL corruption would have no answers on electricity rates, water or crime. electricity from corporations, who are even less generous; and the police is run by the Centre. Some battles are better lost.. If Johari with an energized urban Malays cadre in support, remains the only claimant to honesty’s mantle,Pakatan could face electoral upheaval. But if his mantle can be shared with other BN parties, voter focus will not split.
Comfort food. The words themselves carry a happy little glow, the warmth of knowing you’re about to enjoy the food you love best in the world. But in the day of nouvelle cuisine, haute potatoes, sensual sushi, culinary experiences often demanding chemistry lessons before first bite, what is comfort food to many of us? I conducted a straw poll amongst fellow foodies recently and found, to my surprise, comfort food to many isn’t posh pasta, oozing cake or even few-minute noodles.
If wealth is power, it is no wonder the government decided it was okay to determine our lunch menus. To think the average Malaysian is working hard to aspire for a good serving of kangkung on their dining tables and that a price drop would rouse a household celebration, is ignorance at its worst. It is an indication of how distant our government is from its people.
After all, how can one who is focused on crafting the details of his personal luxury jet empathise with the father who cannot afford to pay his son’s school busfees after they were raised at the beginning of the school year?
But perhaps, wealth has a way of isolating man from society.
Wealth presents escapism from the daily grinds of life that can keep a government which has been elected by the people and for the people, terribly distant from its people.
Mundane activities of grocery shopping that depend entirely on price fluctuations have no bearing on one who spends millions of ringgit on utility bills. The average parent is perpetually confronted with the task of serving a family of five a healthy meal that consists of more than just kangkung, while struggling to stretch each ringgit. These same choices are the only financial solution to save enough to provide their children a university education they never had.
However, the five-figure paycheques of government officials have given them the privilege of driving through rush hour traffic like a Sunday ride on the freeway. So a petrol price hike or a raise in public transport fees are completely irrelevant to them. Perhaps wealth gives a false sense of entitlement, leading to prioratisation of self-interest over the needs of the masses. A dangerous path when one’s main duty is to serve the needs of the masses.
For some to say the kangkung analogy was a mere example is trivialising the mandate given by the electorate. An electoral vote that has chosen a government to be its voice of reason. But the complacency that creeps in after 56 years has taken away the honour of duty and replaced it with the sense of having a right to the throne.
When a government is preoccupied with preserving its position and strengthening its weakening grip on its people, there is no time for concern of the weakest. If only they knew the best strategy to strengthen its place would be to address the cries of the weak. That would however mean taking their eyes off themselves.
It is the drive for wealth that has taken precedence over service to the people. A wealth that has led to a government that believes its citizens should be content with kangkung. A wealth that isolates
Instead, it turned out to be daal, that daily stew of pulses and lentils, so ubiquitous, it’s rarely commented on. Yet, facts say a lot for a foodstuff that never demands attention. Daal is actually an inescapable part of Indian culinary life, its constant presence in our meals one of the strongest differences between the sub-continent’s food versus the Orient or the west. Elsewhere, lentils appear occasionally in rustic dishes or as a pretty garnish by fancy chefs, but don’t form the substance – or underlining – of a meal. In contrast, an Indian meal without daal, no matter how rich, seems incomplete. There’s something about its taste – its thicker form warming your mouth, its slimmer self teasing your taste-buds with soft spiciness – which makes Indians go ‘Ah’.
That’s why daal is ubiquitous, daal-fry with hot rotis whizzed up at any propah dhaba anytime. That’s why Bengalis so love their daal, they add fish to it – a highly acquired taste. Gujaratis flavour theirs with sugar (ditto) while down south, daal in rasam or sambhar is laced with such piping spicing as to make the unsuspecting sputter out loud. Meals aside, we depend on daal so deeply, we even make snacks (thin theplas to fat dahiwadas) and sweets (sohan papdi, anyone?) with it. This makes sense historically if you think of Indians travelling on pilgrimages, work or marriages, carrying their food with them before refrigeration and hot cases. Hardy daal makes one of the best travel companions and it’s little surprise we still eat daals – murruku, daalmoth, etc. – as packaged pleasures.
Clearly, its versatile qualities enabled khansamas of an earlier age to persuade Victorian mems about adding a dash of daal – Mulligatawny soup, dosas even – to their stiff menu cards. Further back in time, an ironical legend hovers about Mughal emperor Aurungzeb grandly offering his deposed father one preferred food through his prison stint – Shah Jehan chose chana daal which can be prepared in such diverse ways, it rarely bores those watching.
But the love of daal spans class, as familiar to a millionaire as to a migrant labourer cooking daal-chawal in a slum. The lentil even melts gender divides, its lack abroad often driving desi boys to cook – with triumphant results for their meals and love-lives.
This passion makes the pulse an integral part of the sub-continent’s sacred cooking. Be it the Bengali puja bhog, where mellow, yellow daal blends in a khichri with white rice, the Punjabi langar where black daal bubbles languorously with cream, the Eid haleem – daal is South Asia’s constant companion in eating, praying and loving.
But what gives it ‘comfort food’ zing? Here’s my guess – integrity. Essentially, daal is about honesty, purity and utter simplicity. Affordable to every ‘mango man’, yet prepared in ways to delight a king, to many Indians, daal deeply denotes honesty. It’s no wonder we thus remark at something slightly odd, “Daal mein kuch kaala hai” – there’s something dark in the daal.
So, yes, sure we like fancy sushi, sexy caviar and crisp-crust pizza but few of us forsake our emotional ties to our ghar ki daal. Even as we debate how many LPG cylinders a family needs to cook this through, this much is for sure – daal is the pulse of our nation. And frequently, our most comforting food.