Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mission Independence

/* Nothing official about it. Believe it at your own risk :-) Reader's discretion wanted! */

I was duly warned by one research student. The serious look that went with the cautionary words told it all. I should not take it lightly.

It was well past Durga Puja. Dashami was on WED. And I planned to prepone return to campus on FRI. A truck load of work was pending. For Her Highness, it was mission independence in some sense after four and half months, to visit parents, much in the spirit of Ma Durga on Shashthi day (SAT) when bodhan takes place. There are differences between then and now. Durga returned from parental home on Dashami. Here, it would be one week later as daughter's school will remain closed for one more week. The dependence from our side to have an orderly house, to keep us giving our best in competitive IIT environment, is the other difference. Even if we afford to keep a disorderly house in the absence of Durgas at home who manage everything with ten hands, how will the lunch, dinner be arranged? The answer would be - Can you not manage few days in neighbourhood restaurants, thereby giving Durgas much needed relief?

The voice within said that. And I forgot to pay heed to the unambigous warning of my research student. Landed in KGP on FRI evening. The Durga Puja break was up to SUN. And I found to my horror after a tiring train journey, all the neighbourhood restaurants were shut. The make shift dinner of egg-chowmin from a fast food centre came to rescue the evening. But two more days, SAT-SUN to go! And I told myself, "Enough is enough!" It is time to launch Mission Independence.

Mission Independence! Roti, Kapda aur Makan - only the Roti part is the cause of this ruin. Before this, I cooked food twice. At home, the charge is handed over from Mother to Daughter-in-law in due process. And this makes us spoiled. The first time I cooked was decades back when Ma was in charge.  She was then visiting Mamabari, her paternal place. I was enjoying delicacies in neighbourhood Hari Hotel of Golebazar, Kharagpur. It is still there on station road, much improved. Has to be. One should remember the likes of the persons who stepped in there! I am not talking about me. Some of the one day meet of Vivekananda Yuva Mahamandal had lunch arrangement there. One fine morning, prepared egg-curry and it was so good that I decided not to venture again to do anything below that benchmark! Not only that, took that curry in a tiffin carrier and wasting no time traveled 5 hours (two trains) to Mamabari to show my detractors there how good I was at cooking. Made everybody taste a little of that curry.

The second venture was during Trento and USC days in 2006! You cannot afford 25 US dollars per day for food, more so when you have the habit of converting everything to rupee value in early weeks. And never there after. Conveniently forgot cooking when either Ma or Her Highness was there at charge; restaurants filling up the gaps, if any.

But it was different this time. Expressed my desire to cook food to Her Highness in FRI evening briefing. One should know that twice a day briefing is must to keep up with the updates, specially the gossip part at either end! And she started screaming hearing my Mission Independence and asked me to look for restaurants in a larger radius. She was more worried about the condition of her beloved kitchen, the disorderliness I would unleash there, so on and so forth. But I was determined. Mental preparation for the Mission is done.

Recipe were noted over phone. Correlated them with remnants in memory from USC days. Ran youtube videos for several times. Her Highness was almost in tears to think about what is going to happen in the kitchen. To assure, I said that my lazy self might not allow me finally to go for it and I might look for a restaurant outside campus. Going by my past record in taking responsibility at home. she felt relieved.

And I decided to play aggressive and not just depend on singles. The cauliflower, beans, potato, tomato, dhaniapata curry was followed by no less than chicken curry. Preparation of rice was a cake walk in comparison. And it was not a one day wonder like one film hero. The cabbage preparation of yesterday evening tasted even better. Now, even when the restaurants are open, I am not venturing out for dinner and preparing it at home. Such is the fragrance of independence!

Her Highness told that the sister-in-law would take a test soon on my cooking ability. I have nothing to prove to anybody. Such thought is more than over-confidence. It is arrogance. May be I can conduct a trial before that here, at least with chicken curry, a kind of lab. level test. Don't know who will dare to eat that. But I have great faith in my research students. My colleagues say that I am blessed  to have such a wonderful research team. I overstepped their warning on availability of food during Durga Puja break. The overstepping has gone quite a far. I am sure that they will maintain the tradition of saving me as they always do from nightmares when review team of sponsored projects tells, Enough of fun / it's time to test / what you have done.

Is there anything called independence? Independence from what? If I am dependent on ABC, I am not independent. In turn, if ABC is dependent on me then too, I am not independent. Confused? So am I.

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