Archives

Lakshmi

It has been five days since Lakshmi came to stay with her son and his family in the city and already she feels lost. The whole of her life she had spent in her village. No, no now it had become a town. But she was used to it. Of the slow pace, of clear winds and an open sky. Here even for a look of sun she had to dangle out of the window. The lights in the flat had to be kept on the whole day.

She would have continued staying in her house if she hadn’t fallen down from the stairs. She had only strained her ankle but then Vishal, her son had insisted that she came with him. ‘who will look after you amma?’, he had said. She had said that her friends would but then seeing that Vishal will not be at peace, she had complied.

But then she felt lost….. Both Vishal and his wife would leave for their respective offices. The children to school. The maid would do her work and leave. The whole day Lakshmi would be at a loss. It was no better in the evenings as the rest would be busy with their work. Vishal would come and speak to her a bit. His wife Aruna would speak leisurely only on weekends. And she didn’t blame her. Managing a home with a job was difficult.

Meena her grand-daughter taught her to start the computer and how to browse. Initially she started reading the news but then yesterday Meena showed her facebook.  And so today was happily spent looking at pictures. ‘Who are they, paati’, Meena asked.

‘I don’t know, I was seeing some pictures and then I read the comments. Then I clicked some name and saw their pictures. ‘, she smiled her toothless grin. ‘But I spent my morning happily’, she added.

Used to having everything fresh, Lakshmi could not eat food properly. The vegetables were bought once a week. And though they were bought fresh it somehow lost its taste once kept in the fridge.

Also Aruna would cook once in three days or so. Or whenever she had time. Now Lakshmi had problems with that. ‘Ayurveda says that food loses its properties after three hours of cooking’, she mumbled one day.

‘If that is so, then I will have to resign and stay at home’, Aruna said. Lakshmi just nodded a yes.

Days passed. Lakshmi was getting better and more bored. Slowly she gathered enough courage to go out in the evening. She found out that there were some like her. Like her meaning aged and bored.

But then there was a difference between them and her. They were either busy and bored  looking after their grand-kids or were busy and bored with their TV channels.

I am neither busy nor boredwith anything, Lakshmi thought.

Aruna had a habit of cooking in bulk. At the end of the week. the excess would be thrown away. ‘You are throwing away Lord’s energy’, she mumbled one day.

‘The kids sometimes eat nicely sometimes they don’t. How will I know how much they will eat’, Aruna replied. Lakshmi would have very much liked it if Aruna cooked a little less and if there were shortages, she would have gladly cooked. But then modern ways…less oil, not much masala…no Lakshmi could not cook that way.

‘No time for exercise but enough time to sit on the internet. If they just moved a little, that would have been good. There would have been no need to be so careful while cooking’, she thought to herself. ‘They say no oil, no heavy food etc and then go to the restaurant and eat all oily stuff , huh’.

The family usually ate out on weekends. Lakshmi didn’t understand much about eating out. Neither did she understand much about what they were eating. These Mexican and Chinese and Continental were beyond her understanding.

And she was really fed up of all that food sitting in the fridge and so she thought of a plan…..

Lakshmi’s mood improved considerably. Aruna’s mood improved too thinking that her children were eating well.

Until there were tiny paw marks outside their door and complaints from the watchman.

Lakshmi everyday would take some food and then go and feed two of the stray dogs which used to loiter outside the gates. Little did she know that those puppies would love home food. They started following her home. Neighbours started objecting too citing that the puppies might attack their kids. There was a meeting and then Vishal was told strictly that his mother could not feed the puppies.

Lakshmi was given the ultimatum. She felt lost. Somehow she found solace in the dogs. After all they too were lonely.

‘Vishal can you take leave for some days and drop me at our village, my leg is fine now’, she said here.

‘Come on, mother just because we asked you not to feed the dogs, you don’t have to rebel like this’, he said.

‘Rebel? Why should I rebel. Don’t You understand I don’t belong here. You are busy with your work and internet. Your life style, I can’t follow. I have nothing to do here. I am better off at my house, where I have freedom to live as I want’.

As she smelled the fresh air from the windows of the train, Lakshmi felt happy. She was going back to her place. Her home and her garden, which she could tend as she pleased. Her friends with whom she could go on long walks. But best of all she would be with the cows, the hens, the dogs and the cats who lived nearby and whom she could feed as much as she wanted.

 

Advertisements

Rasam woes

wpid-wowbadge.png

5..4..3..2..1.. she muttered and then with a deep breathe marched out with the vessel to the dining room

Lavanya belongs to the Iyengar Kannadiga clan of Mysore. Meaning that her family actually belongs to the Tamil Iyengar family who live in Mysore. And so they have their own unique language and food habits. Her husband Jagadish too belongs to the same clan but then are two families similar? And while she has adjusted well to her new family, she has failed in one aspect-making rasam the way Jagadish loved it.

‘Luv, everything you make is perfect but not this rasam. I mean it is good but not like amma makes it. Amma makes it tangy, spicy and mmmmmm’, he would say.

And Lavanya would walk crestfallen back to the kitchen. It was not that she had not asked his mother, she had but the wise old lady had refused to divulge her secret.

‘Oh that, I would just boil the tomatoes,  then grind it in the mixer add any sambar powder and then temper it afer boiling it nice and long’, she would say.

‘Any sambar powder’, Lav had asked.

‘Yes, any’, the wise old lady had said.

And now Lav’s kitchen had about 7 varieties of opened sambar powder packets and about the same amount of rasam powder packets. All opened and used once.

Everytime Jagadish had said, ‘Lav it is good but not the taste that Amma made’

The wise old lady would grin at her son and  grimace at her daughter in law. But would she come into the kitchen any day and say, ‘Lavanya  I will make the rasam today’ or that ‘come I will teach you how to make rasam’. No.

So Lavanya was morose. For the past one week they had gone rasam ‘less’ and she knew she had to make it that day or face wrath, when the phone rang.

‘Hello, Athe’, she said happily. It was her Shantu Athe, her father’s sister.

They gossiped for a while when Athe sensed something was wrong. The wise old lady was nearby, so Lav said nothing.

Afer sometime Athe called her on her mobile and asked what was wrong. Lav took the mobile went to the terrace, leaned far from the boundaries and slowly told her rasam woes.

Now Athe was a smart lady and what is more she and the old wise lady had lived in the same lane in their younger days and that is how the match between Lavanya and Jagadish had materialised. ‘Lavanya I think I have the solution to your problem, just give me an hour’, she said.

In 45 minutes the doorbell rang and Athes Man Friday was at the doorstep with a packet.

5..4..3..2..1.. she muttered and then with a deep breathe marched out with the vessel to the dining room.

The first two courses of dal with rice and sambar with rice were over. The third course of rasam with rice was about to begin.

Jagadish poured some rasam on the rice, mixed it and then put some of the mixture in his mouth and said, ‘Mmmm Lav, the same taste, the same aroma…Magic’, he said with his eyes brimming with joy and love’.

The wise old lady had meanwhile tasted the rasam and now was sitting in shock and silence

Lavanya smiled shyly and with a look at her mother in law said, ‘someone sent me the magic potion’ and thanked Athe mentally for sending the rasam powder made by her ex-neighbour.

_________________________________________________________________

This post is a part of Write over the weekend, an initiative for Indian bloggers by BlogAdda. The theme being This weekend your post should begin with, ’5..4..3..2..1..’

Image courtesy The Indian Food Court

Salad!!

Daddy brought home a bag of vegetables.

“Why have you bought vegetables? The refrigerator is already full of them”, said Mummy.

I saw some fresh cucumber, carrots and some lemons at a roadside vendor, could not resist buying them’, he replied with a sheepish smile.

“Yeah, they do look good, alright, I will somehow stuff them into the vegetable tray”, and she went to the refrigerator.

And so she made some space in the already stuffed tray and kept the three.

“Stop moving around so much, you are quashing me,” said Cucumbers

‘Quashing me…’, mimicked Carrot,”its you who is taking so much space.’

“No you take more space and you are hard not me. If you keep on shifting, you will mash me”, cucumber moaned.

‘Stop you two’, your fight and see what it has cost me’, said lemon and they moved to see that juice was coming out of some of the lemons.

‘Tell this carrot to be still,’ said cucumber

“Why, don’t you move a bit’, yelled carrot.

And they both started fighting, the refrigerator shaked, the utensils jangled.

Mummy came to see what the noise was and then she remembered about the carrots and cucumbers. As such she was feeling hungry and so she took out a carrot, a cucumber a green chilly, a lemon.

Grated the carrot, the cucumber, cut the chillies, squeezed some lemon, added some salt and chat masala and tasted it.

Mmmm the sweetness of the carrots, the crispness of the cucumber combined with the tangy taste of the lemon, all together with the chilly, such a refreshing filling meal for a hot summer day.

——————————————————————-

In case you wonder what this is, it is just a nonsensical story to engage a bored four-year old in his summer vacation.

But it sure was refreshing to return to kids fiction after a long time.

Omelette


‘So how often you change your bed-sheet’, she asked and I let out a sharp breath.

I disliked and liked Mrs. Gupta at the same time. Disliked because she was such an interfering pest, she always knew what was happening at the neighbours. On the other hand she was such an angel too, would love to share her special dishes with us 😀

At that moment I was fixing up her TV channels. As usual Mrs. Gupta had fiddled with her TV remote and had upset the settings. Children being in India for their studies and Hubby busy at work, she did the next best alternative; called me to help her out.

‘Whenever I feel like’, I replied a bit sharply, ‘I like freshly washed and ironed linen.’

My tone must have been too sharp and so she kept quiet for sometime, rubbing her knees, her arthritic knees pained her and she kept on rubbing them always.

‘Would you like some coffee and some chocolate cake, baked one today for Harsha’s birthday’, she asked. Harsha was another of our neighbours.

I nodded a yes. Whatever faults Mrs. Gupta had, fact was that she was an excellent cook. Be it someones birthday or if someone was sick it was Mrs. Gupta who came to the rescue with her yummy preparations.

She got up holding a hand to her knee and hobbled towards the kitchen.

The climate here did not suit her, the winter cold or the summer A/C air, it always was disagreeable to her.

Her husband always mentioned how he had asked her to stay with the kids in Pune but she had refused saying that she had married him and would stay with him till her last breathe. He often recounted this in pride and I always wanted to retort with what happens if you die first but My husbands raised eyebrows and killer expressions always shut me up.

She returned with the coffee and the cake, I noticed she held the cup which she always used to keep in the books cabinet and I nudged towards it but then, ‘No, no, take the other one, that’s mine’, she said. I was surprised. ‘You see that cup is a gift and I do not allow anyone to drink from that cup’, she explained.

She leaned back with the cup and let out a sigh and then said, ‘Want to know who gave the cup?’.

‘I nodded a yes and leaned towards her’, the writer in me is always looking out for stories.

‘After my 10th my father wanted me to study further, I would have gladly stayed at home and cooked but he said no, at least you have to be a graduate. And so I was packed out to the nearby town and hostel to further my education. I had studied in a Hindi medium school and to follow teachings in English was a big problem. And then Vivek came to the rescue.’

‘Vivek?’ I asked

‘Yes Vivek, our neighbour and my childhood companion’.

Ahh I thought ‘a childhood romance’. I loved romantic stories and settled down on the couch with my feet curled below me.

‘Vivek took permission from my hostel warden and would come to teach me English as well as the other subjects. He was doing his engineering those days and we would sit in the common room. I was comfortable being taught by him. His only demand was that I served him omelettes and tea.

‘Omelette? How could you make an omelet in a hostel room?’, I asked.

“We had kept a hot plate in our room, to make a occasional tea/ coffee/ omelet, stir fry; as such the hostel food was so bland…. And so I would make omelettes for him. Sometimes plain, sometimes stuffed.

I noticed that she had stopped rubbing her knees, her tone was animated, her eyes shone, yeah nostalgia had such an effect on everybody.

‘Stuffed’, I asked.

‘Yes, I would save some vegetable or meat from the curry they served for the meals and with that I would make an omelette for him. Sometimes a hostelmate would bring mushrooms from her farm and I would make an omelet with that. He would finish it off in a jiffy, and would ask-bas itna hi…(that’s all?). It was a pleasure watching him eat. He ate with his hands, cut a piece with three of his fingers and then put it in his mouth, close his eyes and chew.’

My stomach growled, it was a different matter that I had finished my lunch about 30 minutes back and just had coffee.

‘Then?’, I persisted.

After two years of college my father understood that it was futile to educate me further,’ she giggled, ‘and so he fixed up my marriage’.

I made a face at her,’I was hoping that he would woo you and your parents would refuse and so on’.

She smiled and said, ‘When my father started looking out for matches, Vivek came to meet me, he had just got his first pay check and so he came with the cup, gave it to me and proposed.’

‘Then…….’ I asked.

‘I refused.’

‘Why?’

‘I knew him and his family too well. What fun if there is nothing new in your relationship, I knew his likes, his dislikes, his moods. There would be no fun. Whereas with Guptaji, each day is a discovery’

‘Guptaji knows about Vivek’, I asked.

‘No he doesn’t.

‘Then how did you explain about the cup.’

‘I told him it was a gift from a friend. He just assumed it was a female friend,’ she guffawed.

——————————————————-

I never had a Mrs.Gupta as my neighbour. This is justa fictional story for Chalks and Chopsticks an even conceptualized by Aqua and hosted this month by Bongmom. This time there is a photo prompt and this story is woven around the photo of the cup.

Shubhaarambh

Nikita banged the car door and stomped inside the house, she would not forget, yes she would not forget this insult by Abhay, never, ever. How dare he, insult her in front of everyone. Agreed that she was one of the team members but she was still the BOSS’s daughter.

Mr.Bansal a Chartered Accountant, had his own firm. Having himself risen from a humble background, he believed that a person had to rise up the hierarchy on hard work and competence and so his daughter Nikita, A CA who had cleared the Finals on the very first attempt; had to pass through an interview to actually be an associate at the firm.
She had been put in a team which was auditing the accounts of a retail chain and it was fun actually. Except for Abhay, her team member, who on each and every occasion found great pleasure in cutting her down to size.

Although Mr.Bansal opined that his daughter would be promoted to A Directorial capacity only if she proved herself fit to be a Director, Nikita herself never lost an opportunity to show off that she was the BOSS’s daughter. Having come himself from a lower middle class background; Abhay found this attitude very irritating and found great pleasure in showing her ‘level’.

Todays topic of their tiff was cooking. Once in a while when Abhay got time, he would cook himself ( His family was located in far off Nasik), and today was one of those days, when he had made a simple-roti- sabzi. The sabzi had become a bit watery and Nikita had acidly remarked that now she understood why there was a water shortage in Mumbai and everyone had laughed. While Abhay on his part had remarked that she would not understand the joy in eating even a watery sabzi made by oneself since she had never even been in the kitchen.

‘But I do go into the kitchen don’t I? To have water, fruits, don’t I mamma?’, she said recounting the days events to her mother.
‘Uhh hun’, said Mrs. Bansal hiding a smile.
‘So tomorrow I am going to cook myself and take it in my lunch box’, declared Nikita.
‘HUHHHHHHHHHHH’, exclaimed her mother in shock. ‘She doesn’t know the difference between jeera and mustard and she will cook?’ thought she.
‘Yesss’, said Nikita with a smile.
Mrs. Bansals mind went into a frenzy mode and conjured up images of broken crockery, floured kitchen floor and ‘bloodied’ hands, and she shuddered.
‘My dear, this will be your first attempt in cooking so why not start with some sweet. Lets see why not make some kheer?’
‘Kheer, yucks no’, said Nikita
‘OK then why not make some Seven cup cake which I had learnt from Mrs. Reddy and which You had liked a lot?’

Next morning saw Mrs. Bansal nervously pacing and checking on the time. Nikita was in the kitchen and her heart was racing, ‘will she succeed?’, was the thought uppermost in mind. Nikitas nature was such that if she did not succeed in her very first attempt at anything, she would not try it again.

Nikita was busily lining up the ingredients for the seven cup cake in the kitchen and ticking it off from the list in her hand.

‘Lets start she said.
‘First take a heavy bottom pan echoing her mother’s voice running in her mind.
Put a cup of gram flour (besan), ( the previous evening had seen Mrs. Bansal telling Nikita about the different types of flours and its usages.)
Add a cup each of milk, ghee, desiccated coconut and three cups of sugar-making into a total of seven cups of ingredients.
Switch on the gas stove , keep it on a medium flame and keep stirring the mix.
Meanwhile grease a plate
Also powder some cardamoms and keep aside.
Nikitas need to show Abhay that she could cook was such that she followed her mother’s instruction to the T and stirred up the mix with so much of sincerity just like a devotee adorns the diety.
‘Keep stirring the mix till it leaves the sides of the pan and then add the cardamom powder. Stirr it once again and then transfer it to the greased plate.

Maybe it was the simplicity of the recipe or her mothers instructions or maybe the sincerity of Nikita, the Seven cup cke turned out to be exceptionally good.

Nikita and Abhay were joined in holy matrimony a year later. No it was not the seven cup cake which got them close. But Mr Bansal. He thought that a person who could make his daughter enter the kitchen was definitely a good match for his daughter and they together with their wit and fire could make the firm fly high.

——————————————
Seven cup cake
Ingredients:
A cup each of Ghee(clarified butter), milk, desiccated coconut and gram flour.
Three cups of sugar
Cardamom powder
Put all the ingredients in a heavy bottom pan. Keep it on a medium flame and keep on stirring till the mix leaves the sides. Add the cardamom powder and mix once again. transfer on to a greased plate.
Cut into pieces when cool.
————————————————-
This food fiction goes for the third round of Chalks and Chopsticks an event started by Aqua and this time hosted by Sra