Friday, 31 October 2008

A Ghost Story

Adiv and I had a lazy friday. We woke up later than usual, oblivious to the fact that Rohit had to gone to work at 6.45. I woke up at 9, got myself a bowl of cornflakes, and continued reading "Behenji". By 10.30, I decided Adiv had to wake up.
"Wakey wakey time Tuttoo," I said loudly.
No reaction.
Finally I played a song on my mobile, and he jumped up smiling and rubbing his eyes.
The maid wasn't coming, so we had the day to ourselves. I made our beds, gave Adiv his breakfast, and brought out his toys. I turned on the radio, and danced to a popular song. Adiv looked up, smiled, and moved to the beat, his hands up in the air. Just then, we heard the friendly radio jockey, lure her listeners with a grand prize. To win it, we had to tell her a ghost story.

"This might be interesting", I told Adiv who was contemplating between putting either Gladys the cow, or a big red block into his mouth.

The first caller was on air.
"We went into the woods, and suddenly I heard a baby cry. It was spooky. It just had to be a ghost."
"It could have been a baby", said the RJ, trying to stifle her laughter.
Anyway, after thanking him, she played a few more songs.

"Maybe I should tell her a story", I thought to myself. I pulled out my mobile that was now in Adiv's mouth, and sent a quick SMS.
"You can't not believe in ghosts, when you've been to the most haunted place in the world", I typed, wearing a smile on my face. She would definitely call after that message, and I'd get my 40 seconds of fame (even if it meant only the jobless were tuned it at that time!).

As I predicted, she called.
"Hi Roopa", said a chirpy, friendly voice. "How are you?"
"Great. How are you", I responded with an equally chirpy, excited tone.
I gushed(lied) about how Adiv and I spent our days listening to radio.
"How cute", she responded.
We eventually got to my message. "So you have a story for me?"

I told her about our three-day holiday in York, a place that is marketed as being the most haunted place in Europe. In York, we'd visited all the museums that boasted of ghost sightings, walked along the city walls, and eaten the best doughnuts ever.
We'd heard many ghost stories while we were there. Sadly, we hadn't seen any.

Anyway, I was eventually on air telling my story. I told Bangalore about the eccentric old man, who'd built a huge house near the cathedral. He lived in his house with several servants, and no family to speak off. Anyway, in his will, he promised to keep his house open to tourists.
"But if you move anything, I'll haunt the place", he threatened. But this isn't the Ghost story I was going to tell Bangalore.
This house had more ghosts than it's beloved owner. An electrician working in the basement claimed that he'd seen a group of roman soldier marching across the room.
The ghosts seemed oblivious to his shocked presence. Interestingly, they took a path that was once a roman street. The city of York as we know it today, was built over a roman city. Archeologists are still working on the remnants of that era.

"Wow", said the RJ. "That was amazing. I've never heard about foreign ghosts," she laughed. I laughed and disconnected after being told that I might just win the grand prize.
What followed were frantic calls to Rohit and my mother. "I was on radio. I might win a prize." I didn't think the guy in the woods stood a chance. My story was definitely better, and I wanted that grand prize.
I waited for them to call back, telling me I'd won. I couldn't listen to radio, coz an excited Adiv had meddled with the radio, while i was bragging about my 40 seconds of fame.

Anyway, as with the cookery contest, I didn't win the big prize here either. Ironically, I was hoping for a prize I'd never have used. If I'd won, I'd have got a gift voucher to the hard rock cafe; hardly possibly with a baby having the sniffles. I was making generous plans of giving it to Rohit's young cousin.

Rohit believes they might still decide to give me the prize. So the wait continues!:)

Monday, 20 October 2008

One big spoon and two leftover cakes

I am no cook!
After my wedding, I went to London armed with a few handwritten recipes and three books by B.F.Varughese. It was there that I began my culinary experiments on Ro. He encouraged all failed attempts with positive criticism, and praised all of my hits.

I've come a long way since then, proving to myself that if I can cook, anyone can. With this confidence egging me on, I took part in a cookery contest on Sunday. The enthusiastic association at my building complex was organizing a cookery contest, after a series of other fun events such as the inhouse olympics and the onam celebrations. I was hesitant initially, but Rohit insisted we take part. I agreed immediately, thinking he was going to make his signature dessert, the banoffee pudding. The palpitations began when I saw my own name in the list of participants.

"Why did you give my name? I was going to help you," i told the dessert expert in the house, Ro.
"You can do it. Why don't you make your bengali fish curry," he urged.
This bengali fish curry had by now become a hit. I'd made it on a few ocassions, and the guests had left licking their fingers. But I wasn't sure I could make it for 100 people.
"Okay, how about that pineapple pudding", he asked.
"For 100 people, it would be tough," I responded.
"Okay, I'll make a biscuit pudding. Get me some rum", I offered.
"Maybe we'll get the judges drunk enough to make us winners," I joked.
"Great! I'll get the rum", replied an excited Ro.

However, Ro's aunt was also making a biscuit pudding, so we had to change our plans again.
"I'll make the coconut loaf cake in lemon sauce", I said.
"Okay. So shall I send that in?"
We were both excited.

The contest was on Sunday, and I was going to spend my Saturday baking. I decided to bake 4 cakes, and Ro was going to look after Adiv. We woke up late (despite the alarm) on Saturday, and after tea and late breakfast, I went to buy vegetables. By the time I got back it was time for a yoga class I'd promised to attend.
"I'll be back in an hour's time" i promised. "I'll start baking after I return."
Yoga class went on for longer than I'd imagined. By the time I got back, Adiv who was happily playing with his Dada realized he was hungry and demanded that he be fed. Ro had already made his lunch, so he was fed, then we fed ourselves, and then it was time to bathe Adiv. After his bath Adiv fell asleep, and so did we. I got up grudgingly, deciding to check my mail once before getting busy. I checked my mail, finished two games of Word Twist, and by then Adiv was up again. Anyway, to cut the long story short, no baking was done on Saturday. At 12 in the night, I panicked, and got Rohit to grate 4 coconuts for me.

The alarm was set for 5 now, but I woke up with much difficulty at 6.20. I brushed my teeth, drank some coffee, and then began work. The ingredients had all been bought on Friday. So i measured the right quantities of flour and put it through a seive. In a mixing bowl, I creamed butter and sugar, seperated egg yolks in another container, and before I knew it the first cake was ready.
"It is any good."
I was apprehensive.
Ro cut us both a generous piece.
"Umm. It's delicious"
"Cut a slice for the maid. She was watching me make it."
"Bahut accha hai Didi", she responded.
The next three cakes were made in quick succession. Adiv peeked in from time to time wondering why Ammi wasn't giving him as much attention.

After quick lunch, I bathed Adiv and put him to sleep. Then Ro and I quickly made our lemon sauce. Everything seemed perfect, and we were already discussing the grand prize. By the time Adiv woke up, we were all set. The three of us got ready, packed our food, and set off to the basement of the other block where the food fest was going to be held. The aroma guided us, and we were shown to our stall. I was placed between the gaajhar ka halwa and a multi-coloured custardy, fruit dessert. In comparison my coconut loaf cake seemed rather dull I thought. But we had plans of serving each slice with a generous helping of lemon sauce, and some grated coconut.

Unfortunately, the organizers hadn't named my stall. They probably didn't know what I was making, so they merely wrote dessert there. This worked to our disadvantage because most people thought I was just giving them cake and custard. I told everyone who came by what I had made, but i'm sure my voice was drowned by the loud music that Adiv seemed to enjoy so much. After a while I gave up, focussing on all the food I wanted to eat; chennai chicken, chettinad chicken, orange chicken, prawn curry, crab curry, bengali fish curry, kerala fish curry, stuffed chicken, chicken roast, shahi paneer, stuffed capsicum (prize winner, but this winner is a chef at the Taj and so we weren't surprised), chaats, barbequed chicken, chicken stew, fish mollee, carrot halwa, kheer, biscuit pudding, fruit truffle, irish pudding, dahi vada etc etc etc. The stalls were endlness, and we just couldn't wait to taste them all.
My dessert was a hit with the kids who wanted a piece of cake, but no lemon sauce. The adults went straight for the puddings. So at the end, I had one big spoon (i lost one) for participation, and 2 uneaten cakes (I made 4). Rohit and Adiv clapped enthusiastically as I went to pick up my spoon, and Rohit promised to finish up whatever was left. I brought back the grated coconut that I'd left for garnishing as well, after emphatically correcting someone who thought the grated coconut was my dessert. Nevertheless, we had a great time. I met a lot of new people, and when we were back we had a lot to laugh about.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

9 Months Old