10 krishnaarchana april 2023 otherwise plain face is the mouth drawn from one ear lobe to the other. Kuttunni stretches his mouth as humanly as possible in both directions. When he does not smile, talk, or snore, he eats. “My earliest recollection of Vishu revolves around good food, new clothes, firecrackers, Vishukkani and Vishukainettam… that was when the Indian rupee had buying power, when multistorey apartment buildings were unheard of in Thrissur, and when hand-drawn rickshaws and cyclerickshaws shared the roads and potholes alike with that workhorse of Indian roads, the ambassador car.” Kuttunni goes on and on. Kuttunni is now well-settled in Toronto. Every year, Kuttunni manages to taste at least six Vishu lunches [sadya]. “How to wrangle a sadya” is a thought process that Kuttunni repeats every year. He begins his first round of yearly calls to friends and relatives around North America at least a month before. He finds it convenient to call and leave messages so ‘they’ will call back. By the end of the week, he manages six invites. By the 15th of March, he emails his confirmations [although Kuttunni is still getting used to his computer, email is one feature he uses at the drop of a click]. Six solid sadyas for 2023, each set apart by two days. Perfect, thought Kuttunni. The first of a series of sadyas The first sadya is on the 14th of April, on Vishu day. Being a weekday, the crowd is small and consists of retired people and hardcore sadya-tasters. The traditional sadya is eaten sitting on the ground. This practice has undergone changes and has been elevated to the table. The plate should be a large plantain leaf freshly cut. At last count, a genuine plantain leaf half the standard size [which could be a couple of feet] cost CAD$ 2.50! And it was imported frozen from Thailand. Being the leaf that it is, it can be used only once. Torontonians have improvised, and now a vinyl sheet precisely in the shape and colour of a plantain leaf is available. Kuttunni wonders if all the items will fit into this pathetic vinyl sheet. Kuttunni does not like synthetic things, especially when it comes to food. He wishes he had brought along his own plate, a plantain leaf. With the aroma and expectation of the coming sadya, he relents and sighs, carefully sizing up the vinyl sheet. He turns it around to see if it’s made in Canada. It is. It looks like a fake impressionist painting of a banana leaf. Kuttunni marks two minus points – one for the table and one for the leaf. So did Kunjunni. Kunjunni, the mirror image of Kuttunni, sits next to him. Kunjunni approaches a Vishu sadya from the other angle. He is the karanavar in North America and gets invited by default. If Kunjunni is not requested, then that unfortunate Malayalee is toast [in social circles]. Not ‘the toast’ of the lunch, but toast as in burnt toast. So Kunjunni gets to pick and choose his favourite eating holes. Their favourite topic for spring will be the various Vishu sadyas until Onam [that’s another story]. Criticism and praise alternate between burps and snores. Besides, they have to decide on the winner too. The lunch is going on now. A feast for the eyes Vishusadya is a glorious treat and a feast for the eyes. The green plantain leaf, two feet long, with one side tapering to the left, is a visual spread. Each accompaniment has its place. The ‘K’s [Kuttunni and Kunjunni] grunt with approval at the perfect display. Five marks for positioning. Rice comes in a long bamboo basket and gets tumbled onto the plantain leaf. Kuttunni [K1] keeps pace with Kunjunni [K2]. K1 makes a neat incision in the rice and palms it further right. Warm ghee glistens on the rice as the yellow ‘parippu’ [dal] waits “My earliest recollection of Vishu revolves around good food, new clothes, firecrackers, Vishukkani, and Vishukainettam ... ”