April 19th, 2011


How long?

Often, I come across topics of great interest to me...but if the article or write up is very lengthy, I find that I start skimming towards the end, and perhaps (though I don't like to think so) missing important points. So I was wondering...how long should write ups and articles be?

I was having a conversation with Meera of Citizen Matters; she wanted me to write something, restricting myself to 750 words, and I had my usual complaint...."that's like wringing out all the meat and printing the dried-out skeleton!" But she made a valid point...that today, attention spans (yes, I suppose, mine too!) are shrinking, and no one wants to wade through more than 1500 words at most.

This post was brought on by an article about sugar being a poison, sent by udhay. It was so long, that I did kind of lose interest, and skipped here and there, finding the general gist rather than reading the article in depth.

I find that with experienced "speed reading", one can get the drift of an article pretty well; but would it not be better, on the part of the article writer, to keep the write-up to just the length where skipping and skimming would not be necessary, and the details would stay with the reader...?

Of course, I am talking about general interest topics, not technical or scientific theses, or novels...but even there, I wonder if writers don't often fall into the trap of being prolix . Good editing is, I think, a must for everything that is written. Tautness, and not tautology, should be the norm. All those 1000-page reports...whoever reads them? Perhaps "Gone With the Wind" is "Gone With Too Much Wind"?

Oh well, let me stop here, before I fall prey to the same fault...I think I could have skipped that last paragraph!


One of the pleasures of the summer is certainly....mangoes! From the most unripe to the most ripe, we can enjoy mangoes in a variety of ways...and with unripe mangoes, we can make a variety of pickles.

It suddenly occurred to me that right now, I've got three different mango pickles in my kitchen...all home-made!

When the mangoes are tiny, they are called (in Tamizh)...mA vadu. This particular pickle is made by a process where the juices of the tiny mangoes flow out with the salt in which they are soaked. With proper preparation and storage (and frequent "shaking up"), this pickle can last for a year or so. I no longer have the ceramic "jAdi" in which pickles are traditionally stored, but here's my photo of "mAvadu":

mAvadu 190411

When they are slightly larger, but yet without hard stones, mangoes can be chopped small, and made into "menthiya mAngAi". This pickle also uses roasted and ground fenugreek seeds, as well as asafoetida. This pickle does not have a long life, but will keep in the fridge for a few days (the mango pieces lose their crunchiness after this.) Here's menthiya mAngAi:

menthiya mAngAi 190411

Larger mangoes, with hard stones, cannot be cut at home, usually; the shopkeeper cuts them into largish pieces, and they are made into "AvakkAi"...a pickle that originates in the Andhra region. This, too, can keep for a year or so. Here's AvakkAi:

Avakkai 190411

I also wanted to photograph the ripe Alphonso mangoes that KM had bought (the first and, alas, the most expensive, of the season!) but I realized that they were already eaten, too! Will wait for the next lot.