Sunny With An Occasional Chance of Rainfall!

A secret

It’s a summer day in Kolkata. The weather is sultry and the sun blazes mightily. Inside the 11th grade classroom, the teacher tries to hammer in the implications of simple harmonic motion to a set of indifferent students that are surreptitiously stealing glances at the clock. It is the last period of the day and cannot end soon enough. A girl passes a note to the boy on the next bench. The boy reads and then pledges complicity. The bell rings. Students rush out to crowd around the ice-cream seller. The boy and the girl do not join them. They have their own plans and proceed accordingly.

They leave separately. The girl arrives early and waits at the agreed place for rendezvous. It’s the dilapidated compound of the erstwhile police quarters. Usually deserted during the day but rumoured to be the haven of shady activities by night. The girl feels a little uncomfortable and hopes that the boy would hurry. The boy in the meanwhile, takes a circuitous route to avoid detection and the ensuing questions from nosy neighbours, or worse, being dragged home by his strict elder brother. After what seems like ages, the boy arrives. The girl is a little miffed at having to wait but decides to forgive seeing him breathless and soaked in sweat. They look around to double check if there are any known faces around. There aren’t. Satisfied, they hold hands and smile; eyes shining with the knowledge of guilty pleasure they are about to partake.

A little ahead a man waits for them, same place, same time, as always. The boy pays him. The man nods and then sets to task. The girl watches the man in giddy anticipation while the boy watches her intently. He shouldn’t encourage this habit which has become an addiction, he muses. But they are young and in love! Moral scruples at that age are easily overcome with the desire to see your dear one happy.

At last the man is done and hands over the two paper packets to the loyal customers. The girl takes a small bite, closing her eyes in pleasure, she rolls the first morsel inside her mouth, feeling the potato, tamarind chutney, and green chilies  come together in perfect harmony. She is oblivious to the rest of the world. This moment, this bite, is her one addiction, her one escape. She suffers from a medical condition and has been under a strict antibiotic regime for the whole of last year. The onslaught of bitter medicines have blunted her taste buds and the only thing she craves for is denied to her. She had entreated, pleaded, begged even till the boy had agreed. This rupee 1 worth of aloo chaat after school was their one little secret. Did the seller know how much it meant to those two young people? Maybe he did, maybe he did not.

The remnants are polished off quickly, a bottle of water guzzled down to wash off traces and the girl runs off to take an auto rickshaw home. She basks in the after taste. She thinks about him. Feeling secure that she can trust him she loves him even more. The boy watches till the auto fades out of sight and makes his journey home, caught up  in his own thoughts…

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In case you are wondering what made the girl drool, here is a recipe of the aloo chaat. Bon apatite!

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A different perspective

When I first became acquainted with the concept of Daylight Saving,  it signified nothing more than a source of inconvenience to me. For all us folks from countries close to the Equator, all it meant was to have to reschedule calls depending on whether the rest was on DLS mode or not.

Last Sunday, DLS crept in again on us unsuspecting (or not in touch with the local news) folks. Weekends are the days to sleep in for most people. So is the case with us.  Pondering over the deliciousness of the Sunday that lay ahead, I lazily opened an eye to look at the time. It should be 11ish, thought my naive self supported by my experienced biological clock. Na-ah, 12:30 pm it is! The evil green digital clock informed me obdurately. Optimistically thinking it should be a technical glitch, I turned towards the cell phone for solace. No luck. Realization dawned – darn DLS! I was outraged at being cheated out of a precious Sunday hour, and consequently upped the crankiness quotient on my otherwise pleasing personality.

After an inordinately late lunch, we decided to go out for a walk. (Gasp! My legs did remember their job and had not atrophied in the last 3 months of being snowed in). The  weather was nice but I was wary. Sensing my misgivings, Spring sent in its messenger, the good old red breasted robin to announce the season’s arrival. On cue, a few hares jumped out of the bushes to greet us but disappeared just as quickly. They could have been relatives of the W. Rabbit muttering “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!”  Neighbors, whose faces I’d not seen so far were out too, smiling, soaking up the sunshine, and preparing the grills for the BBQ parties. Cheers to the joy of waving goodbye to the vestiges of winter and welcoming spring! All this at 7 in the evening when the sun was yet to set. A full one hour later than usual! It’s not so bad after all, DLS has returned the stolen hour, I realized happily.

Later in the evening, as I was clearing up the remains of dinner, H commented “Darn DLS! Now I’ll have to reschedule the calls with the offshore guys again.”

What can I say? Some things never change 😉

P.S.-  Here’s an article on DST and the raging debate on its usefulness. Turns out we aren’t the only ones questioning the futility of the concept.

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For the love of biryani

Last night Mr.H walked for miles battling harsh weather. It was getting late yet,ignoring exhaustion he trudged on to hunt his prey and bring home food to the frantic wife.

Okay, it wasn’t quite so dramatic. He may have walked for 3 miles or so and the prey in question was authentic biryani. Truth be told, I was more frantic for the b than the H. You’d appreciate the situation better if you are a biryani lover fanatic and have been deprived of this heavenly delight for more than six months! No distance is too far, no expense too great when it comes to this cuisine of the kings. In fact, if Maslow had been acquainted, he might have put biryani at every level of the need hierarchy. Slight stretch of imagination that, but you get the drift.

I,personally have been quite late in joining the bandwagon but I sure am glad to have not missed the train! I remember, during the college days of weekend dating with H, Lazeez  used to be a regular haunt for us. (I don’t remember visiting any religious places with such regularity!) H, not surprisingly would order the mutton dum biryani while I would settle for roti and some meat curry. I really did not understand what the fuss was all about and don’t even get me started on the myriad varieties available. He would pity my choice and may have addressed me as “Ye of unspeakable gastronomic appreciation or the lack there of”. I can’t be sure. Yet, with unabated energy he shepherded me from haunt to haunt initiating me to the different forms of the dish till I developed my own  taste and preference. 

Circa 2011, Bangalore. It was a Tuesday night in June . I asked H what he felt about going to Hyderabad for the weekend. “What for?”, he asked, one eyebrow raised. ” To visit Paradise and experience an eat-all-you-can biryani weekend”,said I casually. I may have been consulting him for the monthly grocery list, such was the nonchalance in my demeanor. Now, both eyebrows were raised, his eyes had assumed circular proportions and he had to quickly refer to the calendar. No, it wasn’t 1st of April and indeed I was serious. H broke into a gleeful smile and agreed to the proposition. The prodigal partner (read wife/ erstwhile Ye of unspeakable gastronomic appreciation or the lack there of) had come around. 🙂

P.S.- the Hyderabad trip was a memorable one with its charming historic influence that made eating biryani an even more royal experience.

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The revenge of the avocado

I bought my first ever avocado the other day. Its plethora of nutritional benefits (with a svelte figured model gleefully enjoying an avocado smoothie) have pounded our consciousness for years now. This miracle fruit can be called an angel if such categorization was allowed in the fruit world…you get the drift. So, I decided to give in to the call of the healthy life.

Now, avocado never being part of the diet while I was growing up, left me clueless about how to deal with it. Day 1 therefore saw the aforementioned fruit being respectfully placed on the fruit rack along with the mangoes and watermelon. I can’t be sure but I think I saw it (let’s call it A. for short) roll away towards the other side. A. sure liked to preserve its special status, no hobnobbing with the commoners, this fella.

Day 2 to day 5 were spent eating mangoes and watermelon which were more than eager to show me their pretty faces, A. being blissfully erased from the memory. Day 6- the husband while clearing the refrigerator chanced upon the truant A. and drew my attention to it. Ah yes A.how could i forget thee? I hastily googled possible recipes that would allow me to max out the nutritional benefits yet not be time consuming. Beetroot avocado soup- very high on the health quotient and therefore correspondingly low on the like-ability index. Naturally, out of question. Finally, settling on a smoothie (wonder where that idea came from!) I set to task. Cutting open A. I smelled it. It smelled of vegetable, I noted surprised and discouraged. Too late to back out, i went ahead with the next steps. Scoop – season – blitz – taste. Reaction, ” Eww, now I know why babies don’t like it!” Anyway not one to waste food, I added in the milk and set the blender in motion one more time. Now it was time to pinch my nose and gulp down the concoction. But the lid of the blender jar just won’t open. I gently coaxed, applied pressure and tried every trick to get the lid to open but it remained unmoved.Pun intended. Finally, in a moment of frustration I yanked it off. Whoosh! Yes, splashed in smoothie stood my battered self, assessing the damage around. It appears A. was quite off put by my blatant disregard for itself. Enraged, it had entered into cahoots with my otherwise well-behaved blender jar and the rest is history.

The A. had extracted its revenge (yes it was cold) and I have learnt my lesson i.e. we just wouldn’t click so no point trying to introduce any bonhomie between us. I’d however tip my hat as my mark of respect next time I am passing the avocado aisle in the supermarket. Can’t risk  avocados in various stages of ripening flying out at me, angered no doubt over some perceived sense of  disrespect on my part!

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Inception!

I got into a fist fight with a guy in trying to decide who among the two of us looked more handsome. It was going fine, I was quite enjoying the verbal sparring spiced with occasional punches. That is until I noticed my ability to coexist in two states at the same time. Yes, you heard me. I was my husband fighting the guy and I was also cheering my husband from the sidelines. Yes, you heard me again! My rational mind immediately kicked in to action to try and make sense of this apparent anomaly. It did not take long to figure out a plausible explanation, rather, the only explanation – the implication of which was enormous. It was inception of course! I’ve somehow finally mastered the art that L DiCaprio so effortlessly portrayed. Excited, I tried to wake my husband up. I mean it was his mind I was  ‘incepting’ and all so it was only fair that I should share my new found talent with him. But try as I might he just wouldn’t cooperate! I was all too aware of the pitfalls of staying in this state of induced slumber for longer than necessary. I mean you saw what happened to L’s wife in the movie. Horrified, I sat up to shake him awake. But wait, what’s this? where is he? I only see the blanket bunched up on his side of the bed. Realization dawns. Sigh, just when life was taking a glamorous turn my castle of cards had to fall down.

Belatedly, I realized it was not inception but rather the effects of conception leading to a befuddled mind 😦

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