I guess as someone who has stepped out of their country the first time I am expected to blog about the wonders of the mystical foreign land I am in. Of the majestic Big Ben or the legendary (rather nursery rhyme-ary) London Bridge or even a brag about having seen the Queen’s left hand’s little finger’s nail through a window of the Buckingham Palace. Or so I would have thought. But once you get past the 2-day incubation period that it takes an average person to become a part of mainstream life in London, you come to terms with the fact that the Brits are quite incapable of building as much as a ruddy coffee shop without making it look like a World Heritage site. Indeed I have no idea what the subjects of some of the pictures I have myself shot here are. But I am quite sure I can easily get away with proclaiming them as ‘Britain’s oldest church’ or even ‘King George XCI’s palace’ to my unsuspecting audience back home. And so, as the architectural beauty of the place soon ceased to amaze me, began the quest for another creative inspiration (or so I like to think of the inconsequential stuff I scribble about).
And then my prayers were finally answered. If you ever wondered how long an able-bodied Indian could survive on the Brit version of food before deciding they’ve had enough, (a) The answer is 18 days, (b) It is subject to variation with the cooking skills, prior experience in the kitchen, the age and of course the sex of the Indian in question and (c) Again, get a life, get something better to wonder about!! And so on Day 19, I rolled up my sleeves and went grocery shopping. While running errands for Mummy by fetching her shopping list was a close simulation, when combined with the task of coming up with that list, I realized that Mission Grocery had looked deceptively greener from the comfy side of the fence. I have never respected Mummy more.
Except when a couple of hours later, as I admired my precious grocery sitting pretty in the refrigerator, I realized I am supposed cook it all before the veggies, the hour I spent buying them, the day I spent earning the money I spent in that hour and the frantic turning of wheels in my head all this time went down the drain. I have never appreciated the concept of a ticking time bomb more. And so I embarked on yet another leg of living alone-cooking for myself. I would rather not bore thou kind and patient reader-who has survived thus far-with the trials and tribulations of that exercise. Let me just say that whoever said that the fruit of labor always tastes good has evidently not tasted my cooking. And as a new-found friend here was kind enough to point out, given that I have been blessed with this angel of a maid who tidies up the God-forsaken mess that is my room every day, this was barely the tip of the iceberg of living alone.
To be fair, this was not the first time I had stepped into the kitchen. I have cooked in the past. But without the unconditional ‘its wonderful’ from Dad, the unconditional ‘it sucks’ from my bro and the much flourish and fuss that went with the whole exercise making it more of a family affair with complete participation than a simple meal, it felt nothing like the past times. And while I have prided myself much for having lived outside home for 5 years now, its not until you cook an entire meal without a massive upheaval around you, until you cut and burn your fingers knowing that the nearest person who really cares is five thousand miles away, until you experience the amount of effort that goes into preparing the bowl of dal eaten unnoticed at home; that you fully begin to value the very word home. And its not until you go through the loneliness of a place like London, in the midst of all the wonders of the world, that you truly realize how much you love it..
Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.