Saturday, November 01, 2008

Delicious Snippets…

1st November, 2008

I’ve heard my ancestors had quite a penchant for treating their guests to delicious food, and I seem to have inherited that particular gene! I find it greatly satisfying when someone appreciates the food I’ve cooked, or even something that I’ve recommended. Here are some snippets of such incidents which have given me great joy, and the intention behind posting it here is to create a mass effect – so that anyone reading this also knows my recommendations, and hopefully, will taste them someday (although, since most of it is to be found in Kolkata, it might take the non-Kolkata-residents / non-resident Kolkatans a lot of effort to do so)!

Snippet One:
I think I’ve had the world’s most enticing, delicious and yummy fresh strawberry milkshake in a rather shabby roadside shanty in Pune. This shanty however is pretty famous in the city, and is situated on the Dhole Patil Road, right beside a massive building called The Connaught Place (that’s right, Connaught Place in Pune!). My roommate Mansi introduced me to this intoxicating milkshake, and I in turn passed the infection on to two or three friends of mine – and I noticed with satisfaction that they were as smitten by it as I was, if not more! So much so that the last time we were in Pune to collect our degrees, etc. (it was for two days only – fortunately though, it was in December, the season of strawberries!), we made it a point to have two glasses of fresh strawberry milkshake each day!

Snippet Two:
Months ago, I was very surprised to know on a hot summer afternoon that my colleague Sanghamitra (we’ll call her Mou for short) had never had iced tea. I promptly decided to introduce her to the world’s best natural cold drink. So, in we went to Barista, and had a glass of peach flavoured iced tea each. Mou was so impressed by it that ever since that afternoon, she’s preferred an iced tea over a cola, and yet can’t appreciate the beverage served at any place other than Barista (for which she squarely blames me!), as they seem positively drab compared to the heavenly drink we had in there!!!

Snippet Three:
I had the privilege of introducing Mou to another wonderful place a few days back – the famous Nahoum’s Bakery at New Market. Ever since I was big enough to have cakes and pastries, Nahoum’s was the place my Dad took me to. Nahoum’s has given me the exquisite delight of having delicious cakes and pastries at a time when there was no Monginis, Sugar n Spice or Kookie Jar in Kolkata, and I daresay the items from Nahoum’s taste much, much better! Though we were full to bursting point when we visited Nahoum’s that day, we still could not resist ourselves from having a host of cakes and pastries, and Mou particularly enjoyed the blackforest pastry, which has been a speciality of theirs for long!

Snippet Four:
Ashish had of late been quite smitten by the kochuris (a kind of hand stretched and fried bread, quite popular in India) of a roadside hawker near our office. To my palate, the kochuris were no better than average, and so I decided to treat him to some really good roadside kochuris. And what better place than Shyambazar to look for such things?! It is common knowledge that kochuri, shingara (samosa for some) & jilipi (jalebi to some) form the breakfast of a typical Bengali on a Sunday. Therefore, one Sunday, we drove out to Shyambazar, and went to this place just beside the Duff School, and treated ourselves to some amazing kochuri, aloo-r dum, ghugni & jilipi. I had initially planned to take him to a shop just opposite the Chittaranjan sweets shop, which is by far the best in the locality, but due to some unavoidable reasons we had to restrain ourselves to the second best! The effect however was no less grand – trust me, since that morning, Ashish has not, even for once, praised the kochuris of the roadside hawker near my office!

Sharing Experiences…

It's been quite some time since I wrote about my real life here. So today, I thought I’d share two of my recent experiences – one which touched me immensely, and the other which amused me to no end! Such experiences are rare and unexpected in daily life, and therefore it feels truly good to be able to share them with the world.

September 9, 2008

My story starts at a time when I was on my way back home from Durgapur (I’d been there on an official trip). The Volvo bus that was to carry me to Kolkata was waiting to depart at the Durgapur Bus Stop, and I was sitting aboard, quite immersed in the book I was reading at the time. A small voice of a girl was barely reaching my ears, very sweetly requesting the passengers on board to buy a few packets of incense sticks from her. She reached my seat and made the same request to me, and I looked up to find a little girl of about 10 years of age, selling scented incense sticks. Since I had no wish to light them, I refused to buy any. She requested me to help her by giving her some money, which she would use to buy her school stuff. May be there was a ring of truth in her voice, or may be it was just the sweet way of her talking, but I reached into my purse, extracted fifty bucks and handed it to her.

The look on her face will stay with me forever – she was speechless. It was evident that it was beyond her wildest dreams that someone would just give her fifty bucks without even buying something from her, just like that. She looked at me for a few seconds, then muttered a little prayer, and tried to push a box of incense sticks into my hand. I refused it – I wasn’t about to use it, and I reckoned she’d get some money by selling it to some one else. She thanked me profusely for being so generous to her, and went her way. I took it for granted that I would not see her again, like so many others of her kind. Till then, there was nothing unusual about the story.

However, just as the bus was about to roll out of the Stand, the little girl came hurrying back to me, and pressed into my hands a small packet of roasted and salted groundnuts! This time, it was my turn to be speechless – I have known many street urchins, beggars and even genuinely needy children who ask for money as they have no other way out. I’d deduced that she belonged to the third category – but even so, I did not think she would be this thankful for my help! But evidently, she was a cut different from the rest… I was so touched I couldn’t even thank her properly, and before I could gather myself together, the bus rolled out, and I watched with misted eyes at the rapidly shrinking shape of the little girl by the side of the road…

October 18, 2008

The second experience is actually quite unconnected to the one above, and also very different – I’ve never had a funnier experience! (Actually, no, looking back, I think I’ve had two experiences which are funnier than this one. But more about them some other time – now to get on with the story!)

We’d been to RDB Adlabs to catch a newly released movie. The movie was a hideous disaster, and it seemed the city folks had realized it much before we did – for the hall was not even half-filled. Among our fellow spectators, some were there to get cosy with their guys / gals, some because they had nothing better to do, and some because they didn’t trust the movie reviews published in the papers (to which category yours truly belongs). One person however seemed to have found the perfect excuse to buy a ticket for the movie – to sleep!!!

I don’t know how many people noticed him during the movie, but once it was over and people started leaving the hall, they really couldn’t miss the sight - there he was, alone, with his feet up on the row in front, sound asleep as if he was on the most comfortable bed possible!!! Indeed, the cleaning staff had to shake him quite hard to wake him up, and a little later, we noticed him wander into the parking lot (although he had no car), utterly confused and most probably still half asleep, trying to figure out where the exit was!

Laughing our heads off, we imagined what the director of the movie would say to this man, if word of the latter’s actions reached him! Would the director have woken up to the fact that his movies are being treated as lullabies by many?! Or would he simply have treated such action as an extreme insult to his directing capabilities?!

Either way, I think the man proved what we so often hear in sermons and lectures – that “Actions Speak Louder than Words”!