Life brings with a plethora of experiences, each with a flavour of its own. I wish to share with all my readers these various experiences and observations that I have made during my time here on this planet. They may be funny, thought-provoking or simple reflections. I do hope you will find these enjoyable and interesting.

Friday, 29 March 2013

My Experiments With Cooking

Disclaimer: Everybody is advised to read this write-up only if they feel up to taking some shocks. The author does not intend to willfully offend anyone's sensibilities, having said which she does not guarantee the improbability that that might be the outcome. Any such effect is purely unintentional.

That I am a gourmet (and admittedly a gourmand) is a well known fact. A gourmet is one who appreciates and enjoys good cooking while a gourmand is one who can't lay off food. My motto is "I see food, I eat it" (my definition of sea-food diet). I have tried various kinds of diet, but this is the only one which I have managed to faithfully stick to and which has worked for me. (As I write this there are some lovely smells floating out of the kitchen, making me weak in the knees).

So coming back to the point, although I have always loved eating, I cannot say the same about cooking. I was a very hard nut for my mom to crack. Somehow I was an avowed women's libber in my school days and did not like the fact that people expected only girls to learn cooking while men could expect to be waited on (at least it was my perception of reality those days). So I pig-headedly refused to go anywhere near the kitchen , while continuing to eat like a larva.

While the mysteries of cooking eventually did begin to intrigue me, my big fat ego would not allow me to admit to mom that maybe I would not mind some lessons in cooking .

So one day when I was in Std. X, she went out with my neighbours to see a film, while I was left at home to study. That did not go down too well with me and I decided to entertain myself at home. What better way of doing that than eating some nice. My mind thought up a wonderful dish to eat - fried potatoes. I wanted to make it like what my friends brought in their lunch boxes. How does one fry potatoes? Well, simple. One took a wok (kadai), chopped up potatoes, put them into the wok and onto the fire, closed it with a lid and presto!!! After a while, there would be delectable potato fries coming out of the wok straight into my waiting mouth. (I could almost imagine the trajectory it would follow).

After a while of waiting, I opened the wok and checked inside. The potato did not want to part company with the bottom of the wok and it did not look like what mom made. Nor did it look like what my friends brought in their lunch boxes. I decided to take no more risks. Mom might arrive any minute and it would be a major loss of face for me to let her know that I had tried my hand at cooking. I picked up a piece of potato. It did not quite follow the trajectory I had imagined it would take. It made a brief halt in front of my eyes. Then I thought, maybe it might be alright after all. I gingerly took a bite. It was completely raw. What could I do? If I chucked it in the bin, mom would certainly spot it and my cat would be out of the bag. So with all the courage and adventurous spirit of a new teenager, I chucked the whole stuff into my biological bin. It was strong enough to biodegrade it without anyone noticing. Then came the next step of cleaning the wok and even if I say so myself, I did a sterling job of it and put it away, hoping that all evidence of the crime was wiped out.

But I realized two facts that day. One was that I would not make such a good criminal after all. Second that our CID should have made it a policy to employ only mothers. After all God provided them with a sixth sense and eyes behind their heads as well as other powers of ESP (Extra Sensory Perception). So it was to my utter chagrin that mom comes into the kitchen and asks me "Did you try cooking something today"? And being a useless liar, I decided to give her the facts straight. After that I was put through an interrogation about how I made the fries. When I told her, she said "Have you never watched me do anything? Don't you know that you need to use some oil and spices and that you need to sprinkle some amount of water to allow vegetables to cook? Why could you not ask me? Would I not have taught you"?

The years went by. When I left home for the first time, i was determined that if I were to ever feel homesick for any reason, lack of my favourite foods would not be on that list. Thus it was that I got the recipes for all my favourite items from mom before I left, and I must say it stood me in good stead. I did a pretty good job of feeding myself.

The only problem was that I did not have so much time for cooking and many of our vegetables were not available where I lived. Once when I went to the doctor with recurring headaches and tiredness, he said it must be lack of proper nutrition. I felt very sorry for myself and went shopping for vegetables at "Safeway" and decided to make a mixed vegetable soup for myself.

Once back at the hostel, I found that my pressure pan was not large enough to hold all the vegetables and borrowed my friend's pressure cooker. The soup was made and was pretty tasty. So I shared it at the communal table with my friends at dinner time. We had it for one day, then the next and the next. I had it alone on the fourth day. Finally I decided I could do without such "healthy" soups. What was I to do with the remaining stuff? It was in this way that the soup found a resting place in my freezer.

A few weeks passed. After about 3 months, I decided it was time to check out on the state of the soup. I pulled out the container and defrosted it. I did not know what to do with it. So after a bit of I had a brilliant . I added some orange masoor dal, some onions and masala and seasoning to it and pressure cooked the stuff again (just to make sure it was safe for consumption). An American friend walked in, took in a whiff of the air and asked what smelt so good. That was my chance. She was given a generous helping of the stuff and she walloped it up with great relish. I was relieved. It was not just edible, but yum. So the "new" dish made its way back to the communal table.

When asked what it was, I told my friends to taste the stuff and take a guess (nothing works like a bit of suspense). After they had finished, no one could guess. So I finally spilled the beans and was met with a horrified silence. "What? It is 'that' soup”? What if something happens to us? You – a microbiologist?" I assured them that the microbiologist had carried out a quality control test on it before it was served up. Besides I had part taken of the stuff myself. So that should be proof of the fact that it was safe for human consumption. Besides the proof of the pudding (dal in this case) was in eating it, wasn't it? And after all they had all declared it to be yum – and that was just 5 minutes ago.

To cut the story short, there was still some dal left and my friend whose culinary skills extended to cooking rice, offered to do me a favour and finish up the stuff the next day. So that was how my "healthy" soup was finally cleared up, with no detrimental effects whatsoever to anyone.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Motivating or Moti Waiting?

"Amma, I have no clothes to wear" goes up the tortured cry. Amma gives me an exasperated look. "What? Just look at your cupboard. Every time I open it, clothes keep falling out . How much more do you want? Do you know, when we were young, we used to have only two sets of sarees which we used to wash every day and use alternately". Having given me this homily, Amma vanishes into the kitchen to avoid my wailing. We have to go to visit some people and I have to dress up properly. Clothes after clothes are brought out of the cupboard and tried out. One is tight there. One is tight somewhere else. I cannot wear such tight clothes. It is indecent. Queen Victoria did not derive her inspiration from me for no reason.

"You need to lose weight. You cannot be so overweight at 14. Look how figure conscious people are these days". Every Tom, Dick, Harry, friend, relative or other animal making a visit to our home informs me of this. Why don't you go swimming? It is good exercise. But that requires me to get into a swimming costume. Not decent. No. Not on the agenda. "Look at the way you dress. Can't you get some better looking clothes? Your dresses look like tents". Oh well, that is my allowance to healthy activity - camping. So I live in tents. And am perfectly happy in them.

Eventually I buckle in. I go for aerobics, I go for swimming (yes even I, from whom Queen Victoria drew her inspiration), I go for yoga. But it is such a drudgery to get my ample self moving. I lack a very important thing. Motivation.

It is not sufficient if you just do a little exercise. You also need to control your diet. But my taste buds protest loudly at this. I mean if they should not be exercised, would they not waste away? What use their existence then? Did God create them for nothing? Did he not know what he was doing? Oh this is absolute torture. I am not motivated enough to keep smelling all the wonderful odours that float out of the kitchen and keep out of there. And having set eyes on the fanciful fare, I cannot avoid tasting it. I simply lack the motivation.

One day a gurumayi comes home and says. What you lack child is the motivation? Just wait! I'll give you the magic mantra. Say the word “motivate” 108 times in the morning and 108 times in the evening. I promise you if you say if for the next 108 hours, you will be motivated enough to get down to losing some weight. I say it as prescribed and it sounds to me like “moti weight”. I am now dying of mortification at calling myself “moti” and talking of my “weight”. The deed is done. I am now motivated enough to start a weight loss programme.

I throw myself into the programme with all my weight. I am delighted with the results. The ugly duckling now looks like a swan. The moti waited long enough to lose all this weight. She will certainly take care of herself in future not to lose the benefits of this major war on weight that has been waged. Everyday is a battle against self and nature to keep the weight away.

The years roll on and eventually the rolls pile on. There are many battles waged in the course of time. Some are won only to be lost again. Eventually, "Lady Wisdom” takes her place along with the rolls. She tells me, “whatever will be will be. You have to enjoy yourself, you see?” I accept that advice, buy myself a lot of tents all over again and decide to live a healthy life “camping” in them. This way, even moti will not realize how much weight has piled on, let alone others noticing. As they say “Ignorance is bliss”. Que sera sera. Moti and weight will coexist peacefully till death do them part.