I have never stayed in a hostel. It has always been home sweet home for me. Yet recently,like many of my hostel-friends, I have been surviving on instant noodles. Our kitchen is still intact and food is still being dished out from there, but I was bored of the routine dal-bhaat, and of course I have this crazy weakness towards Maggi and the like. (Yippee, Top ramen, Sunfeast pasta....it's an array of colourful packets out there , all determined to confuse the hell out of you..)
Then one fine day I decided I have had enough of instant stuff and I need to cook. Dal bhaat was rejected in favour of pasta (bangla ma er anglo shontaan...except this would be italian shontan...but we'll ignore that ) . I went shopping, and picked up dried thyme, oregano, a packet of pasta (not the maggi, sunfeast ones, but real pasta) etc etc. I cooked the pasta yesterday and polished off about 90% of that. I have often heard my mother saying that she does not feel like cooking for herself. On the contrary , being the supremely selfish creature that I am, I really enjoy cooking for myself and even the thought of sharing that irritates me. I am lazy , very lazy and if I am moving my butt and actually doing something, then excuse me - I'd want to do it for myself!
There are exceptions of course, when the experiments don't work, then like a very loving daughter I offer the dish to my father (he can digest anything, I think he has non-corrosive metal chains instead of intestines)...he mumbles and grumbles and then eats it . Somehow I am incapable of wasting food. I feel this tsunami of guilt welling up within me whenever there's a possibility of food being wasted.
Since I don't cook on a regular basis (God is kind to other humans) and since I can't cook anything that one can have on a regular basis (bhaat dal jhol jhal) I have practically no reason to preen and boast. So to boost my confidence, I imagine that I'm a super exotic chef , forced to work in a miserable kitchen (Have you seen Donna Hay's kitchen on TLC? It has a beach, A BEACH! in the back ground, errrr....in that kitchen I would settle down with a pinacolada and refuse to move , leave alone cook....but that is another thing, the POINT is...there's a breathtaking beach behind her kitchen...). Behind my kitchen there's a small verandah where crows sit comfortably and scream their lungs out. .. The result of my cooking ranges from good food to utter disasters. If it's the former then sadly others seldom get a taste of it and if it's the latter, my dad's intestines come to the rescue.
Once a wife of my father's friend came to stay at our place. She stayed for a week or so. For the first few days she only slept. I was happy, I hate guests, so if they sleep I just pretend they don't exist. After the first few days of rest she finally decided to stay awake and to my sheer horror , she with her replenished reserve of energy decided to help in domestic work. My mother is a chronic patient and she was at her resigned best. One fine morning (my winter vacations were on) I wake up and I see my mother standing at the kitchen entrance with a faint smile and a very worried expression, and that woman doing something in the kitchen. I reach the kitchen and see our guest holding our strainer (chhakni) over the lighted gas burner . She was very confidently preaching - " I always clean my strainers this way, it's very easy, you'll see how clean they become, these maids nevvver do their work properly, at home I personally monitor everything" , My mother was nodding periodically. Before I could make a royal disgusted face I noticed that a light green juice was dripping down the sides of the strainer like melted ice cream, except this was no ice cream but plastic, melting on the burner. "what are you doing? MOVE!" - was my rather impolite reaction, and I switched off the gas. She backed off like a scared rabbit. My mother had a zen like expression on her face. The woman then proclaimed "this has never happened to me in Delhi" (as if manufacturing faulty strainers is a Kolkata speciality), I explained that she must have used a steel strainer instead of a plastic one and plastic actually melts.
Our kitchen has always been a site of royal misadventures. God knows how many more there'll be, since I'm not going to get one like Donna Hay, I'd better get used to it.