#humour #KitchenFisasco #BachelorsLife #WhyPigsHaveWings #DifferentTruths
Here’s an interesting account by Soumya, a humourist, on cooking. We are introducing his humour column, beginning this week, on Tuesdays, exclusively on Different Truths. I am a foodie. My girth hints at it. I take a keen interest in the creative process of cooking too, but all strictly theoretical. I also enjoy cooking as a spectator sport. The glamorous cooks on television make it look so sexy. [ 933 more words ]
Category Archives: satire
#humour #KitchenFisasco #BachelorsLife #WhyPigsHaveWings #DifferentTruths
Balancing the books
I had been battling the auditors these last few days, a real challenge for me, given that my understanding of the subject was, if possible, negative. I could not acquire the highest professional qualification in my field as I could never better the financial management paper. It has been my responsibility to sign the final accounts of the unit I had been heading for more years than I remember, and I merely signed where I was told to, and depended on the professional accountants in my team to decipher what it all meant.
My domestic finances are managed by a professional, who handles my tax, budget, expenses, savings, investments and everything without charging anything, as she is married to me, and manages all aspects of my life as well.
But this was not always the case. This is a story of my early struggles with managing the budget.
I had to manage my own funds for the first time when I left home for the hostel. The first skill we learnt in college was writing home for money. In those days money arrived by money orders. When this arrived, a notice was put up outside the hostel administration office. Expenses were always on credit. The canteen, cigarette shop, chai wala, dhobi, laundry, everyone extended credit. The arrival of the notice brought them all to the door of their debtor, and chaperoned by all, I would claim the money, clear my accounts, and be left with nothing. So I would pick up the pen and start writing home for money afresh. How the money disappeared was a mystery I could never fathom, and the vicious cycle continued.
When I was gainfully employed by the benevolent government, I thought the problem would be solved. Four friends shared a flat for economy, and it was decided that everyone would record whatever they spent, and accounts would be cleared on month end, or whenever everyone was solvent.
Initially this worked fine, but as expenses continued to surpass incomes by a distressing margin, an analysis was done.
Immediately various objections were raised.
“How does auto fare get included in the common expenses?”
“How would I carry back the weekly groceries without a rickshaw?” was the retort.”And the nearest wine shop is miles away”
It was agreed that reasonable costs incurred towards procurement of shared commodities would be part of the common budget.
“When did you get toothpaste?”
“I brought it from home and all you guys were using it, so I added it to the costs “the cleverest roommate explained.
“But it was already half used “someone protested.
“All right, I will add a depreciated amount” this brilliant economist conceded.
Incidentally, this enterprising economist is currently a millionaire merchant banker running his empire from an international financial hub.
“The kitchen and bar expenses are way too high; four of us can’t spend so much”
“It’s all the partying! We have too many guests eating and drinking us to bankruptcy”
“From now on whoever invites a guest pays for him. We will add an extra man day per guest to him” the smart economist decreed.
“Not fair!”protested the popular guy from the fashion industry “You guys hang around flirting with all the girls who come to see me while I slave away in the kitchen! You guys can’t talk to the girls in that case!”
The economist found the solution. Male guests will be debited to the host member, while ladies were common guests and could be entertained from the common fund.
A while later I acquired a life mate; and my roommates moved out to make space for her in our tiny flat.
This time it was truly a common fund and neither of us cared who spent how much on what. However, one aspect continued; we still could not make the funds last till the next salary, and were clueless where the money went.
We therefore decided to keep an account of all that we spend under various headings. At the month end an analysis would show where the cash disappeared.
On auditing the accounts we found the two heads of accounts that were the guilty parties.
One was GN or God Knows. It was the money spent without the slightest recollection as to where it went, or the inexplicable gaps between cash drawn from the bank and pittance left after accounting for all the expenditures we could recollect. This mysterious Bermuda Triangle that swallows up our hard earned moolah continues to plague us to this day and we have agreed that this is one of the mysteries that are too complex for the human intellect to solve.
The other was Experience. Any absurd, unproductive investment or expenditure we made, like buying gadgets that did not work, or trying money saving methods that ended up guzzling our spare change, which we swore that we would not repeat again, we debited to experience.
Over the years we have learnt that experience is a black hole, it will swallow every penny we don’t keep tied down, but give nothing back in return.
We finally decided to give up trying to balance the budget, and follow the national economy in deficit financing. This was made possible by two brilliant inventions, the credit card and the EMI. Now we do not have to live within our income, but earn just enough to cover the interest, as all major economies do.
Thus I have progressed way beyond those stony broke days in the hostel. Now there is no needing spend keeping these short term earnings in mind, but the hope of all possible future earnings. So I continue to live happily ever after in ever mounting cycle of debt, certain of being remembered when I am gone.
Cooking my Goose
I am a foodie. My girth hints at it. I take a keen interest in the creative process of cooking too, but all strictly theoretical. I also enjoy cooking as a spectator sport. The glamorous cooks on television make it look so sexy. However, the actual mechanics of it have eluded me so far.
Having grown up in the strictly feudal atmosphere of a Bengali Bhadralok family, I learnt to appreciate fine food, without ever wondering about the process that creates it. Our kitchen was presided over by a family heirloom, the venerable Maharaj from a neighbouring state, who dished out delectable repasts ala Anatole of Blandings fame but jealously guarded his domain, where even my mother was denied entry.
When I finally left the comfortable cocoon of home and later hostel to venture out into the big bad world to forage for the daily bhat mach or pizza, this shortcoming became a problem.
I moved into a Barsati with some friends, a typical bachelor dig. Those of you who have seen Chasme Baddoor will get the idea even if you have not lived it.
For economies sake, for we were impecunious bachelors, we decided to try cooking at home. The onus of providing dinner came by turns. When my turn came I thought that khichuri will be a simple enough dish, as you could add rice dal vegetables eggs sausages spices and everything one could think of in the pot with ghee and add water and boil and it’s done. The subtleties of proportion and timing and controlled heat escaped me.
The net result was that the mix turned black and started emitting a foul smelling smoke. Adding more water in a desperate bid to salvage my creation turned it into a thick black liquid broth. I dared not taste it.
I tried calling my creation Hungarian Goulash and try it out on our most gullible roommate, but even he saw through it. I was demoted to procurer of ingredients, leaving the creative side to my more skilled roomies
When I lost my single status and my partner moved in, my roommates moved out. My wife was a superb cook, and my attempts to help out were quashed on the grounds of slowing down the process and leaving a mess in the kitchen. My guilt regarding my inability forcing her to do two difficult tasks, cooking the books at the workplace, and a multicourse Bengali Punjabi fusion cuisine at home continued to niggle, and we arrived at a compromise solution of hiring help in the kitchen, supervised by the LOH.
In due course, kids appeared on the scene, made life a delicious blur, and the years whirred past. Soon I had three militant feminists, who had allergic reactions to my feudal mores, running my life.
The fallout was that it was decreed that all of us would be self sufficient, and at least make our own breakfasts.
Gone were the days of stuffed parathas in the morning, with generous dollops of white butter, which transformed me from the svelte youth to the rotund old man. The dictum was that everyone had to prepare their own breakfast.
The obvious answer was cereal with milk and toast and fried eggs. This I concluded would be well within my limited capabilities. Pouring the cereal in the bowl and pouring the milk on top was done without a hitch. The toaster popped up the toasts unaided, and spreading the butter was the toughest task so far, but I managed it without mishap. The first few days, I stuck to bread and jam, buttered toasts, sandwiches made from sandwich spreads and cereals soaked in milk for breakfast.
Now I came to the real test. I was attempting eggs, sunny side up. I waited till I was alone at home. It looked so easy on screen. The pan is placed on the stove. A dollop of butter is plonked in, and starts sizzling and bubbling. Now with one smooth movement of the hand, the egg was to be cracked on the edge of the pan, and the egg neatly drops in and magically turns into a golden smiley face. It looked so easy, elegant and stylish. The hand holding the egg swooped in. Contact was made with the edge. So far everything was going as per script. But now deviations set in. The pan leapt off the stove, the hot butter splattered me, and the smashed egg was all over the floor.
While I soaked under the tap and danced about in pain, my faithful Labrador cleared up the floor of the mess, shells and all, even cleaning the pan.
Undaunted, I geared up for attempt number two. I tried a less flamboyant method now. Pan, butter all in place, I held the egg over the pan and tried to crack it with a knife, to let the stuff plonk into the pan. It looked really simple on screen. But no, here too, things did not run as per script. The egg smashed and fell in the pan, shells and all.
After faithful Labrador removed all tell tale evidence of crime once again, a third attempt was planned. Robert Bruce tried seven times before defeating England we have learnt, but I had only six tries, limited by number of eggs in the fridge.
This time egg was broken into a separate bowl. After fishing out as many of the shells as I could, the egg was successfully poured into the pan. But the result wasn’t the golden center ringed by a white beach as advertised, but a yellowish white amoeba, brown around the edges, with bits of shell hidden inside.
I have discovered that ordering a takeout is the best for anything more ambitious than bread and jam.
Happily Ever After? Chapter 28 of Memory a Novella
Written for Nanowrimo extended
Copyright (c) Soumya Mukherjee
Recently at a friend’s house Boy met a stand-up comic, who strongly resembled the laughing Buddha figurines. He was brilliant in his repartees and had everyone in tears with his quips. He was accompanied by a very attractive young woman, obviously in love with him, and Boy learnt that she was defying family pressures to be his muse and life mate.
Boy offered them a piece of unasked advice, sharing a warning that his wife has been giving his daughters.
To explain this shared wisdom, I have to tell a story.
In his teens Boy was a dark skinny bespectacled gangly boy, shy and nerdy, enthusiastic but indifferent at games, and absolutely addicted to reading. This did not make him popular among the boys of his peer group, and the girls he liked were all fictional.
For self preservation amongst the denizens of the jungle that is the teenage world, Boy used his facility with words as a substitute for brawn. Sharp repartee, wisecracks, ridicule and satire were his defensive and offensive weapons. This gave him a small measure of popularity and the school bullies kept a wary distance. But with adolescence, his soul cried for the company of feminine creatures outside the pages of books.
Boy’s prayers were heard by some bibliophile god, and a neighbourhood kid he had played with as a child metamorphosed from a gangly awkward girl into someone who could be every teenager’s dream girl. To the combined shock and resentment of the entire young manhood of the area, she adopted Boy as her official boyfriend.
Basking in the glory and warming in the heat of jealousy of his peers, an emotion that was novel to him, Boy still could not quite believe in this miracle. What could the prettiest girl see in the ugly bookworm ignoring the hunks, sportsmen and the Richie rich kids who usually monopolized all such girls?
To unravel the mystery, Boy asked her.
‘You make me laugh” was her honest reply.
The secret unveiled, Boy blossomed into the class comedian.
Later they moved into different cities and drifted apart, but the mantra she taught him served Boy well. This message was later validated by his Guru, Graham Greene, in whose ‘Travels with my Aunt’ the unprincipled uncle teaches the protagonist the secret of his successful serial liaisons as ‘YOU HAVE TO MAKE THEM LAUGH”
This so became a habit with Boy that he could not be serious when required and poems he tried to write turned out to be limericks. No one sought serious advice from him, job interviews provided entertainment to the interviewers but resulted in no jobs, and offering condolences in his flippant style would replace the grief of the grieving into rage, which could potentially get him killed.
By now Boy was looking for long term commitment in life, and was stuck by the fact that no one would take him seriously. The bright and personable young ladies would enjoy his company but would choose the serious young academics, budding bureaucrats or corporate cutthroats, when it came to long term liaisons.
Thus when Boy met the lady he could not live without, she would not believe that Boy could be serious, and took his impassioned entireties as more attempts at comedy. It did not help that she had been seeking relationship advice and Boy’s solution was to replace her current flame with him. Boy resorted to another Guru, Wodehouse, and presented her with ‘Leave it to Psmith’ to convince her of serious intent behind flippant content.
Finally, the argument that clinched the deal was that the advantage of marrying anyone so obviously crazy is that you can never get bored. Ignoring saner counsel from all concerned, parental bans, cultural differences, she banked on a wisecracking clown and potential entertainment on long winter evenings for her future happiness.
As the decades that rolled by, Boy was blissfully happy, and presumed that he had kept up my side of the bargain, as he heard no complaints on that ground.
But then Boy heard her advice to his daughters as they reached the dating age.
“Never marry a guy just because he can make you laugh, he might be fun, but jokes tend to pall after 25 years and get rather stale. One can bear to hear the same jokes only so many times. You may live to regret it.”
This was the statutory warning that Boy shared with the couple at the party, who were giving him such a strong sense of déjà vu.
He hopes they ignore it.
Is there a happy ending outside of fiction?
Is Happily ever after only a Fairy Tale?
My Ideal Man
My ideal man must earn a pile
Drive the snazziest automobile
Own a penthouse with an ocean view
But he must be non materialistic too
He must be a six foot man
Six pack abs, an even tan
He should look like Richard Gere
And when I’m home, he must be there
To rub my feet, and brush my hair
And cook for me, plus do his share
Of household chores, like clean and dust
And outdoor chores, of course he must
He must also listen well
And be well read and smart as well
Be a thorough gentleman
That’s all to be my ideal man
A BRAVE NEW WORLD
God had taken a summer break
Left me to mind the job
I decided, what the heck,
I could rebuild the orb
The seventh planet from the Sun
Needed an overhaul
I thought it would be good fun
To set rolling the ball
I checked the forests, mountains seas
And thought they would all do
I spied the birds the beasts the fish
But all were tickety boo
I wondered what should I refine?
Who do I need to shun?
Till I figured, that natures fine,
I have to get rid of Man!
Written for a prompt on project 365 on how I would design a new world