This one was long over due! It has been 9 long months since my sanity kicked me in the shins and bade goodbye.
September, last year when I was packing my 2 bags of modest man luggage i.e. my neatly pressed 'formal' shirts - pin striped, plain, checkered & with some obscure designs and similar looking set of trousers, some comfy inner wear and some nice thermal wear to armor myself against one of the harshest winters North India had witnessed in over a 100 years; there was a grunt of dismay and disagreement that had been brewing inside my dear wife.
"How will you feed yourself there? Let's go shopping" was her plan for me.
Now a good 9 months later of experiencing bone numbing colds and dehydrating summers, my sanity that had so abandoned me was slowly returning and soon I will be off to the Garden City to enjoy good life with my wife of 2 years.
But before doing that, I do want to gain some credit for the efforts that I put in to feed myself in this great city called Delhi.
Since birth I had never ever been separated from home for more than a month's time & my short term migration to Delhi were my baby steps towards real independence. It was scary. The average human psyche always yearns for independence and yet somehow when it gets it, it retracts its hard stand as the fear of unknown takes advantage of its vulnerability and naivete.
Technology is the greatest gift man has given for himself, though he has messed up the world equation in his spirit of invention and advancement. Being a South Indian, I can never be kept far from rice. Lo Presto! the wife took me to a store that specialized in household items. It was an all new experience for me. All those stuff in the kitchen actually came from such well lit, air conditioned showrooms I thought when I was taken across aisles and aisles of kitchen goods. My wife and my mom - in - law spoke amongst themselves in a language that was alien to me.
They were experts when it came to selecting the right 'dosa tawa', 'frying pan', 'ladles' & some other stuff; for which I don't even recall the names. Finally, they selected a most efficient and cost effective electrical rice cooker made for India from the stables of Japanese electronics major, Panasonic.
A lot of local research went into finding out the best cuisines that could be prepared with this portable rice cooker and on a small paper, my wife wrote down some basic recipes which I could try. Once in Delhi, when I set up the rice cooker in my new found rented home, I felt like I was born to cook! Start anything new with the enthusiasm of a professional who gets paid in millions for doing what he does best; that was my mantra.
I soon realized why kitchens the world over are the strong holds of women folk. They are wired to calculate the right amounts of rice, water, salt, veggies, spices, garlic paste, etc etc! which is right for a single person who could consume the product without having to visit the toilet repeatedly throughout the night.
My first few experiments in the kitchen were disasters, just like Ram Gopal Verma's movies. New found land was murky and dangerous. Earlier, I used to run miles at the mere sight of onions and a knife and now I was there, tears flowing from both my eyes, chopping those underground tumors to little pieces - just as the recipe said.
My first dish ever was a dish made of Tomatoes, onions, lentils, garlic & ginger paste [ready made obviously ], Soya bean oil and of course Rice! I was cooking up a storm. Though the Japanese electronics major had provided enough safeguards to ensure that the cooker did not catch fire and burnt the whole building down, I did my best to singe the rice to a dark brown color and the rice looked like it was dipped in dark Belgian chocolate. A quick visit to the hotel in the nearby market provided temporary relief while the cooker rested in the kitchen sink, topped with water mixed with an excess of Pril - dishwasher.
Cooking Indian food is especially hard for people like me who wear spectacles all the time. Regular checking of the cooker to see if the rice is boiled well enough gets your glasses all steamed up within seconds and you end up with temporary blindness. Similar experiences when you are chopping onions, when you rely on the eyes on your fingers to guide the sharp edged knife and yet many times my confidence in my circus acts of cooking blind folded ended up with cuts on my fingers and only in Delhi did I regularly taste my own blood when I had to lick my wounds, just like tigers and lions do after a hard fought battle.
There is also some fun elements to cooking especially when you are cooking with oil. I just loved the chitter - chatter sound that the cooker used to make when I dropped sesame seeds into the hot oil. It was like watching a ballet in motion, as the seeds danced effervescently and rose to the top trying to escape the stage. The amazing aroma that the onions and the garlic exudes when the oil burns into their stomata.
Soon, I befriended the kitchen's denizens and I was sharing some of my own recipes with my wife who was pleasantly surprised to hear about my various adventures in the kitchen. These experiences have definitely made me a wiser man, wise enough to respect the woman's dominance and to give her complete freedom and space in the kitchen. Men were made to appreciate the cuisine of his lady and that is what I intend to do on my return home.