Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Master! Chef at your service

“Oh , What a tangled web we weave , when we first practice to deceive !”

So said Sir Walter Scott . But what about the webs that we unknowingly weave, when we do not have  any intent to deceive ?How does one get out of that ?

Here’s my story .
Everyone who knew me well when I was a teenager will vouch for my total disregard and disinterest in learning to cook. In India , if  life skills could be categorized , Cooking skills  would take precedence over other life saving skills like a) Learning to drive without crashing b) Learning  to swim  c) Learning how to administer first – aid etc

This is especially true if you are a girl . On the contrary if you are a boy , you are never expected to be within 5 feet of the kitchen. Things are changing in modern India , with boys too making the appearances in the kitchen out of sheer necessity , especially if they are studying or working in cities away from their hometowns.

My dad was very modern in his outlook and pushed us girls to study hard , go to a bigger city and  study even more, take part in all the extra  curricular activities , in manly sports everything but he always said that a girl needs to be an all-rounder and that involves learning to cook a decent meal as well. I used to snigger mentally and lovingly thought of my maggi noodles , bread and omelette which had never failed me yet. He warned me repeatedly   the importance of cooking skills after marriage but would I listen , no ! 

  I got to know things first hand when my friends started talking about their marriage ‘proposal’ experiences.

So you have a Masters degree in Finance and working in an investment bank” asks one potential MIL-to- be to one of my friends
Yes , Yes” , my friend stuttered 
All that is well and good . But tell me how many different curries do you know to cook , different  types of breakfast items? My son prefers a heavy breakfast in the morning. How about traditional  festival sweets  like jalebis, gulab jamun, shakarpale, kheer, halwa, kajoo barfi, suji halwa, besan ladoo, gujias and traditional  thali meals.

At this stage, my friend had started perspiring. If she said ‘yes’ to all , she was doomed. If she  said ‘ no’ she was doomed either way . But she happened to look up and  saw her mother frantically nodding her head , from behind the sofa , indicating that she should say ’ yes’
(My friend was a maggi expert like me . If she added  scrambled eggs to her noodles she  considered  it as ‘gourmet cuisine’)

Anyway she said yes . yes to all the questions and yes to the marriage. And started the crash course in Indian cooking , 2 months before the wedding.

So back to me . I thought no way am I gonna to let this happen to me and was prepared to tell the horrifying truth that I didn't know how to cook , if this question was ever asked to me .

A few months down the line , my marriage got fixed and as fate would have it ,neither my fiancé or my to-be in-laws or their family , ever questioned me about cooking skills . And I totally forget to warn my fiancé about my lack of skills in this sector ( Honestly , I totally forgot)

So onto the wedding day   where everything was going along smoothly until the reception. There I was sitting on a raised stage with hundreds of people gawping at me and the bright lights of the camera guy  in my face . I was chanting mentally ‘ Be graceful’ , ‘ Dont giggle’ , Act like a bride, ‘Act shy ‘ , ‘ Don’t cross your legs’ . But above all , I really was trying my best to be a graceful bride and not the tom boy that  I usually am.

So amidst all this frantic mental chanting and acting  , the toastmaster hands us each a glass of wine for the toast and goes over to the podium to introduce the bride and groom as is customary .My husband’s intro went without a hitch and then the toastmaster turns towards me and said a few lines and adds “ The bride’s hobbies are reading” ( I was smiling at this , trying to look intelligent ) and COOKING”.

“What!” I spluttered over my glass of wine, turning towards my husband. “ Who told him  I can cook ?“ , I went on , totally forgetting to be graceful and that I was up on stage and hundreds of people  were watching the mini drama unfold .  The videographer was confused. Was he supposed to be taping this or switching off the bright lights?

Sshhh” said my husband “ It doesn’t matter , we’ll talk about this later. “

My brain was frantically working at this point. Was this someone’s idea of a practical joke at my wedding? Or did I unknowingly click on‘ cooking’ as my interest on facebook or orkut. Or heavens! What if my dad  had told a little white lie to my in-laws about my skills ? Would I  be put to shame on the first day of married life itself, when everybody realizes I can’t cook  ?

I’m smiling now thinking of this incident at our reception. It sure wasn’t funny then , let me tell you.
 Again as destiny would have it , I am lucky to be blessed with an ever patient husband who doesn’t rate cooking skills as the only‘ need to ‘ skill for a girl and in-laws who are supportive and encouraging and like him , don’t think it’s an earth shattering issue.

So now  every day I say  to him   Master!  Chef  at your service  :)
1) A few years down the lane and I’m quite into cooking now ( not out of my own volition , out of sheer necessity to keep the hubby and me from starvation )
2) The mystery of how the toastmaster  got hold of the mis- information is not resolved till date. My dad swears it wasn’t him who passed on this titbit to him , my friends swear they didn’t play a practical joke on me , and I’ve trawled through my  history of  emails and  fb and orkut pages and cooking isn’t a word featured in any of these.

God’s idea of a practical joke maybe  ?:) Good one  , God :)