It was a certain boredom that drew me into cuisine’s fold. A break of several months between an MA and an M. Phil found me discovering a few cookbooks lying around the house and trying my hand at the recipes.
Seeing my enthusiasm, my father repaired an old oven that his sister had owned. I only made ‘high-class’ foods – cakes, puddings and such. Who was interested in rice and dal? Certainly not me!
The folks at home were anything but thrilled – my grandparents thought I was wasting my time but were reluctantly indulgent and my mother always feared the mess that would confront her later in the kitchen.
There were other successes but what stood out was a savarin that rose splendidly and soaked up the syrup brilliantly.
A friend told me I was considered a snob, and someone who didn’t offer acquaintances more than a reserved smile. I was overjoyed! For someone who is beset with doubts about whether she’s being over-friendly and eager to please, this was reassurance.
In Standard I, a classmate told my cousin and me the secret of making rubber. Here it is: Scribble something with a pencil on a piece of paper, then erase it really hard with an eraser. Gather those grey bits that come off the paper, mix them with wood shavings that come from sharpening pencils, put them into some milk and refrigerate overnight. The rubber will be ready in the morning. (No, I don’t know whether the milk was to be boiled or left raw.)
I still remember the light of the fridge underlining the disgusted look on my grandmother’s face as she opened it to put in not one but two cups of this formula!
Years ago, a friend insisted I taste the delicious tea at an Irani café deep in Secunderabad. Though I didn’t drink tea and wasn’t used to it, had no standards to judge it by, I acquiesced because her enthusiasm was infectious.
There we were finally, getting off my bike after a long ride through the city and going into this dingy little café with blue-green walls on a dark and cold evening, full of men staring at us as if we had come off an alien spaceship! I don’t remember the taste anymore, but my friend does. That was an adventure!
I am not good at repartee. My presence of mind is absent. So it was a notable victory when someone tried to do me out of the computer I routinely used for that hour of class. She refused to yield it to me. “I’ll continue to practise on this machine, but come, use this,” she said, patting the seat next to her, “it’s very good.” “If that is so good, why don’t you use it yourself?” I asked her, riled by her manner. Scowling, she picked up her stuff and huffed out and away. Petty, maybe, but I was oh so thrilled that I could retort as I had!
I had to attend a conference and report on the proceedings. At the end of it, I was depressed – I didn’t understand what the point of the meeting was. Why didn't I get it, had I chosen the right profession, should I consider doing something else, how would I handle bigger challenges?
Slowly, I picked myself out of my seat and made my way out. There were two very senior and accomplished colleagues there, one younger than the other.
The younger man asks, with a totally bewildered expression on his face, “But what was the conference about?” And the older man bursts into laughter … I’ve even forgotten his reply but gathered he didn’t think much of it either, but needless to say, that boosted my morale no end!
Thank you, Sunita and Sharmi, for tagging me. I read somewhere that one's required to say seven things about themselves and tag seven others. Most people I know have been tagged. I’m tagging Santhi of Writing on the Mirror, Pooja of My Creative Ideas, Sreelu of Sreelu's Tasty Travels, Prema of My Cookbook and Jyothi of Andhra Spicy for this meme. Only if you're interested, of course, but I'd love to know more about you.