Swami's three words - Bashi-bazouk, curd rice, Kremlin
For a long time, it never struck me as strange that all the General Secretaries of USSR landed up at our house.
Brezhnev used to land up every now and then. Kanjoos. Bought us sputnik magazines we got for free at Popular Book depot. He loved the vadais patti made. Once in a while patti would scream. Bashi-Bazouk! Naivedhyam kooda pannale, inda Brezhnev vadayellam thinnuttu poyittan!
I was upset that they were made to sit at the Vishnu elai in all our functions. I never understood why I couldn't sit there. Appa and Amma were afraid of them. Patti didn't care. She would hand Andropov a bucket and say, Poi Thulasikku Thanni Oothhu, and Andropov would dutifully do it and come back.
Khruschev was a bit in love with Patti. Suddenly we found that Thatha, who died long ago, who had never done anything as Health inspector but run behind cholera patients with a large needle, had been awarded the order of Lenin. Since we lived in Gopalapuram, Karunanidhi´s son would land up at our house. Khruschev would cuff him on the ears for no reason at all, so that spoilt our good relationship with kalaignar´s house.
Patti would pack Puliypotharai and Curd-rice in banana leaves and send it to Moscow. Somehow they would last the journey, probably because it was cold in the Himalayas.
But somehow the rice became gas-inducing. Khruschev would dismiss everyone in the kremlin and enjoy the curd-rice with patti´s thokku. We would read about army exercises inside the Kremlin in Span magazine and laugh.
If you look carefully at the earlier photographs of Sputnik, you would notice that it was originally named Mangalambal after Patti. A large photograph of Patti, dressed as Catherine the great, still hangs in the hermitage museum in St Petersberg.
Somehow, we were sad after 1991. Things became more commercial. There was no day-to-day contact between soviet and Indian citizens anymore.