Thursday, September 29, 2011

Finger licking good ...

“Dad, please remember to get the eggless date muffins from Sai Tara” I shouted as I waved him goodbye. He mumbled a “If I can remember what you want” and picked up his bags. “I won’t forget to remind you when you call me” I smiled and hurried back to my room.

He called. I reminded. He said they might get spoiled on the way back to Mandi. I told him not to buy them in that case. He bought them anyways. I relished each morsel, every tidbit.

Mum saw me through. “You really love these. Don’t you?” I just smiled and digged my spoon yet again into the little yummy muffin.

“Mum? Can we make these at home? I mean these are just like cakes or rather cupcakes, I should say.”

“Why don’t you find out? Your Google will tell you all, I guess.”

This is her way of getting me interested in handling ladles and woks. And this usually works. As do all her ideas.

I obediently Googled the “eggless date cake recipe” and discussed with her all the requirements and procedures. The recipe was understood. And it so turned out that all the ingredients were also available with us. I could set about the task whenever I felt like.

I was deliberating. Cakes are not my thing. I mean cooking itself is a challenge for me. And cakes need expertise. So, I postponed the task twice. Third time, I knew it was going to be now or never. “So, now it is”, I decided and started off the procedure.

By the time, I was done blending the ingredients, half a day had already passed. And I was dead tired. But the major task was done. Mum had dusted the baking tray and set the oven for pre-heating. She helped me pour the batter into the tray and stack it in the oven.

And then we both waited. With our fingers crossed.

She kept checking it time to time while I was still in the kitchen, clearing off the mess that I had made there. 

Finally, she called out to me. After a good 35 minutes.

“The cake is ready.”

But, this did nothing to ease the butterflies in my stomach. “What if it breaks while taking it out of the baking tray? What if it does not taste good?” I could only wait for the answers to come.

We let it cool for a while and then I waited with a bated breath while mum took it out.

Perfect and moist. I just kept staring at the tray and the cake. Some things are definitely hard to believe. This was one of those moments.

The cake was finally cut and tasted. The compliments were flowing.

By the evening I was not sure whether I genuinely deserved those accolades or whether they were to appease me.

The next morning, my sister dropped in unannounced at 8:00 A.M. “Do we still have some cake left over? I just wanted to taste it.”

I knew for sure then. :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Goodbye ... from Tandoor

Dear Ruby,

Hope this last letter of mine finds you hale and hearty.

By the time you will receive this letter, I will have gone far away. Back in the lap of the elements that created me.

I still remember when I saw you the last time. I was standing silently in a corner of that big terrace of yours.

You came running up the stairs (I know you were running. The music of your anklets said so. Your short, quick breath also told it.)

You ran your daily errands and left silently. Did not spare a glance for me.

This morning, you did not come for your daily walk. And by noon, it was time for me to go.

I am glad you were not there at that time. For, I still remember the curious look on that 7 year old face of yours when your grandmother, along with other lady from your neighbourhood, was setting me up in that corner.

The mud plasters on my walls … your first experience of shaping a structure out of clay, mud and water.

Few years later, you grasped that this is the fundamental of pottery and kuchcha architecture.

And aeons later, you understood the strength and determination exhibited by this simple combination.

I also remember how you all used to relish those wintery delights of daal makhani, cocumber salad and tandoori rotis, complete with my earthy aromas.

The wonderful times when the male members of the house would set up the fire in my hearth; you kids would come rushing with dough container, water, clarified butter, caserols; followed by the ladies who would then set about their task of making chappatis. Then you would all get a chance to apply clarified butter and stack the chappatis in the casseroles.

With the big joint family, your mother had ample support to handle this exerting and dangerous task. Your grandmother and your aunt were always willing to lend their hands (or rather I should say arms).

But of late your mother had to handle everything on her own. And wow, did she just handle it. She even made the task a fun for me.

She would experiment with stuffed tandoori paranthas. So, I never knew what challenge would be presented … aloo , onion, paneer … until it was put up against my walls. And then it was upto me to turn it to a delicious treat for all of you.

In the process her arms got many a scaldings and burns, and I am sorry for each one of them.

I know you thought of me as something of permanence. So, you never saw me ageing.

I was there when you fell down and hurt yourself and I was there when your nephew fell down and hurt himself.

I was there when you were sad and crying and I was there when you were happy and smiling.

I was there when you played badminton with your sister. And I was there when your sister got married.

But, trust me. 20 years is a long time of association with fire, sun, rain and storms. It had taken its toll. I was not the same old healthy myself.

The rains this year put the final nail in the coffin. I was all done. So done. Finally, it was time to say good bye.

I knew no more renovations could save me from the inevitable. Not with electric tandoors (I know you still haven’t gotten the hang of it), dish tv installations on the rooftop, the monkeys prowling day and night, and fuel availability at all time low.

I have no regrets. I have had a great life. But the grass always appear greener on the other side. Does it not?

One more season, month, week or day. Anything … nothing.

So I guess, I should let you know, that tomorrow when you will go up for the walk, this friend of yours will not be standing in the corner. It would have left forever.

But don’t be disheartened. I heard your mother telling your granny that they can always get my sibling and put it up again. (Yes, the ones like me are available readymade now-a-days. Ah! How times change.)

So be good to it. Who knows, it might just be me ... re-incarnated and rejuvenated.

Take care. Bbye. And pay my regards to everybody back there.

Yours always,

P.S. I will miss you.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Permutations and Combinations …

Of late, life has become simpler. Simpler and monotonous.

Simple is good and welcome. Monotony threatening.

So, permutations and combinations.

To break the routine. To find challenges. To learn. To evolve.

Some work out. Some don’t.

But every travail leaves behind the same lesson.

“Life is the most spectacular show on this earth.”

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Coping with 80GB loss

80GB of data .. lost all of it .. was not able to retrieve even 1 bit.

And I mean it. Not a tiny, single bit left.

So these days, I am guilt ridden and also these days, I am coping with a huge loss. A huge, huge data loss.

Every time, I called up the vendor in the last few days, he asked me if whatever data I had was important.

A simple yes no question … just that it left me speechless.

I tried to remember what all I had in it. The more I remembered, the more it hurt.

Generously helped by friends and colleagues, I had been able to lay my hands on some complete discographies. Are they important?

Then there were e-books. The ones that I had read and the ones that I was planning to read. Are they important?

The audio and textual versions of the Punjabi and Hindi sacred texts. Some of them were rare. Some of them were favourites. Can I risk losing those?

The study material. The presentations, the minor and major project reports, the survey results. The topics that I could not find in my photostated notes. Will I need them at some point? Do I have them all in my mails?

The pictures with family, with relatives, with friends, the pictures of the college days, the Bangalore days, the Shimla days. How will I ever get those moments back?

My experiments with C, C++ and HTML. How much time will it take to re-write them?

The crotchet patterns, the mobious that I had thought of knitting. Were not they the choicest? Will I be able to find alternate designs well in time?

With one simple question it all came back. The time and the effort expended in those downloads, the contributions from loved ones, the learning that came slowly and gradually … and it all seemed important. Extermely important. And I wanted it back. All of it.

But the doctor had already given the final verdict for his patient. To cure the disease, they would have to kill the patient. All he needed was my sanction, my approval.

Silently, I watched my old hard disk being laid to rest. And I heard my vendor ordering a new one for me. He assured me the system would get a new life in a few days.

And that will get me busy again.

Till then, I am trying to come to terms with the 80GB loss.