Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A day full of unremitting flurries notwithstanding, history was made in Chi-town yesterday. Yes, it’s official, the Bears have made it to the Super Bowl after 21 long years. And it didn’t take bubbly Budlights for some of us to bounce off our seats like the dog in the commercial. Well, you see, you don’t exactly have to be a Bears fan, or even a football freak, to partake in this frenzy that has held everyone spellbound. You just have to live with someone that is. Sometimes, it helps if you live above or below or adjacent to such fanatics, and they don’t exactly have to have a big pixel television, for they’d have been unruly as blaring, bleating Argali sheep on the Altais anyway, thanks to Lovie and the boys yesterday. Personally, I am happy that Soldier Field was set ablaze even in all that snow, courtesy of which I spent my Sunday baking crisp “alu parathas,” and reading blood-curdling excerpts from Lesy’s “Murder City,” among other things. Miami, of course, is another story --- it will be sweltering, and not just because of the hotfooted Colts and Bears, or say, Prince at halftime. And while we’re talking sports, there’s an itsy bit of news that has been eschewed in the wake of all this hoopla. The Olympic team here has readied its 20 official 457-page books to bid for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games host hotspot. And if Conley’s dedication is given half the interest it merits, the Chicago sun will more than shine brightly on the contestants, they say.

With the arctic blasts finally hurtling in on us, what wouldn’t we give for a drop of sun? Of course, if you have a strong back and the will for thrill, you might skate on the rinks at Millennium Park, or go window-shopping (even if it means slinking in and out of fancy stores just to warm those frostbitten fingers) on Michigan Avenue. But if you’ve ever actually strolled on Michigan Avenue in January, you’ll know to do better and stay in, or even cede and browse through Macy’s no matter how much you miss Marshall Fields. But as long as you’re on Michigan, if you plan to be, you wouldn’t have to fret over nibbling on crunchy toffee almond bars to wash down with your Machiato, given that Starbucks (and God knows you’ll thank Him enough there’s one down Michigan) has flushed out all that artery-clogging trans-fat in its bakes. Of course, if you’re the doting mom of a little girl, you might prefer lunching with her, seated beside her favorite doll at the American Girl café. Or if you’d much rather have a good laugh to warm up, the Blue Man Group is at your service. There’s something for everyone in the winter in Chicago, provided they can make it anywhere without as much as a skid or a slew on the slick roads. Special mention goes to handlers of strollers or gigantic diaper totes and the little tykes that their contents belong to.

And then there is Jennifer Hudson, an ex-American-Idol-wannabe who won her first Golden Globe award for best supporting actress in her film debut, “Dreamgirls.” I don’t know much about the film sparing the detail that it also stars Eddie Murphy and has her crooning and mesmerizing audiences. At any rate, Matt Lauer liked it, and I shall be wise (or hopelessly smitten) enough to say he’s right.

And so this winter, even as snowmen were animatedly built and the pediatrician duly paid visits, I managed to find sugarcane sticks without much ado, at the local fresh market. Of course, Sankranthi wasn’t the same as last year, in India, but my little princess seemed radiant in her teeny-weeny lehenga and filled the house with peals of laughter, and tinkling trinkets, while the appetizing aroma of ghee-laced, raisin-speckled “Pongal,” persistently clung to the walls even if it was owing to slammed windows that keep the howling winds at bay.

Winter is here, and unlike the hordes of other desis about, I am determined to stop lamenting and making it memorable, with or without festivities. I am gritty about adding my celebrated Indian spin on everything, be it teaming up my turtle-necks with Kashmiri shawls; jazzing up my Campbell’s (creamy tomato) with roasted cumin; or simply swigging down cups of piping hot “masala chai,” in the place of hot chocolates.

Neil Tesser at Green Mill, or Komodo King at Shedd,
roller skating at the Bean, or lying snuggled up in bed,
Frango mints at Macy’s, or Vikram Chandra at Barbara’s,
there’s something for ev’ry cold heart, in the city of big shoulders.


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