In most houses populated by bachelors, the kitchen looks like a war-zone. The ritual of cooking food for consistently ravenous and generally ungrateful roommates manages to take on the trappings of a grand opera, complete with heart-wrenching yodeling and murder. The chef accompanied by the pressure cooker, is the one doing the Pavarotti impression and the food is quite often the victim.
In a previous post, you have been introduced to the denizens of my house and their various eccentricities. One of the sentiments that we have in common is that we like to eat well and more importantly, we enjoy cooking. (Not every day of course, heaven bless the various mothers, kaam-wali bais and whoever else that do so). Being the hardworking, busy men that we are (on cue - helpless guffawing) we take turns to make food and the system is simple enough to suggest that it ought to tick along like a fine Swiss watch. The Swiss however, never had to contend with our 4th roommate. He's a nice enough guy, I suppose, but his reluctance to engage in any activity remotely culinary is, by now, legend. His initial experiments with plate-burning ought to have warned us, but we put that down to arrival jitters. When I look back, that ought to have been the toll of the bell o' doom or something similarly appropriate.
As far as our gastronomic Titanic goes, he's the iceberg. On his assigned day, he'll walk around in a pensive air from dawn till dusk, breeze into the house as late as possible, put on a blatantly false sense of enthusiasm and.... begin. Genghis Khan and Attila could take lessons from this worthy on how to pillage an area, lets leave it at that.
To be fair to this pinnacle of evolution, during exam/assignment-deadline times, we all are stressed out and the cooking suffers. If we're lucky, nothing is made and we go out. If we're lucky. If not, we make the item that's simplest. One of the daals or one of the beans, which with rice, makes a decent enough meal. However...
Indian student life, especially in the United States, is distinguished by 2 things; one - we eat items in phases i.e. we'll eat something repeatedly till we're sick of it and two - there's never any shortage of reminiscences about 'maa ke haath ka khana' and out-of-the-way restaurants and stalls back home where allegedly brilliant food is served up. The combination of these two ensure that there's a perpetual suggestion of begrudging masticating and digestion at the dinner table (or the floor)
So far, pulao and rajma have crossed the first line. We don't want any pulao anymore, thank you and visibly blanch when we see rajma. Not that we won't eat these dishes back home, but there's so much variety in India that one is constantly praying that these two pass under the radar. Unfortunately, one of the daals is heading the same way. Moong dal, which we've eaten 3 times in the last 7 days, twice made by bachelor number 4 (I cannot qualify what the 'iceberg' does as cooking). Mother Theresa downward, even the serenity of saints has a breaking point. And since I'm the last person who will qualify for sainthood, well...
As far as I'm concerned, Patience has finally had enough of mooching around the Monument, has packed its bags and headed off to wherever.
Moong daal joins its breathren in exile. Its time has come, as the walrus said. Black-eyed peas (the bean, not the band) is soon to follow.
Song for the moment: Same old Blues - Eric Clapton