Friday, March 8, 2013

Comedy Of Errors and A Red Towel

It was Sao Paulo. Fifteen hours straight flight from Dubai. I was tired. My knees were swollen. I could walk like a not walk, more of a waddle! And after a while I needed to visit the washroom. So I waddled my way in the direction that was given to me. Before long there in front of me I saw the door with a wheelchair borne person painted on it. That's it, and I quickened my pace.

When I was a few steps away a tall strapping fellow, strode ahead and got in. This just wasn't done. He didn't need a 'physically challenged' people's washroom.

"Excuse me," I said loud and clear for everyone to hear me fifty paces away. "I need to use this facility right now." And I pointed to my lumbar support and then to my osteoathritic knees. Not that he would have seen them inside my trousers.

The poor guy was startled, which pleased me a great deal. How dare he rush past me.

"Oh, well! If you have to go here it's alright," he said and stepped out.

I got in and as I was about to shut the door, I felt something was wrong. I opened the door wider and looked for the signage. And there it was. The facilities here were for 'hombres.'

I couldn't control my laughter. I called to the fellow and told him I got the wrong place and I was sorry to push him out that way.

"Yeah, your place is the other side. Over there."

I kept giggling all the way to the 'other side' and along with me a row of people sitting on the chairs across the corridor, and who had witnessed my bossiness, had their share of laughs too!

And then we were in Vina; at home and comfy. I decided to cook. Tahiri it was. That's a rice made with potatoes, tomatoes and various spices. A sort of pulao.

I love to cook rice and generally everything in kadhais. The kadhai is my favourite vessel. So everything was done and it was time to cover the rice and allow it to cook. I couldn't find a cover of adequate size. I looked high and low, though not low enough, as I can't stoop too low, and that's an awful pun!

However I found a vessel which was shaped like a bowl which tapered into an elongated bottom. It fitted perfectly over the rice and I thought it was rather cute and it would give a lot of space for dum, or steam. Eight minutes later I had to check on the rice, and using two pan holders I lifted the toupee, it looked like some sort of Arabic hat.

It slipped. I tried to get a firmer hold on it and grabbed the rim. Ow...ow...ow. The steam gushed out onto my fingers. Two fingers were burnt with hot steam and I was in agony. I rushed to the sink closest to me. There are two. I turned it on and ow...ow...ow! Hot water poured out onto my already steaming fingers. I had forgotten to check the lever. It was turned to hot.

Well, with some ointment and many aching minutes later I was able to settle down and slap my head, while I enjoyed a plateful of hot tahiri with an onion-tomato raita.

And then the weirdest thing happened. Goons entered the house. I was with K and two of her friends who were visiting. My room in Vina doesn't have an ensuite bathroom, so I generally have to wrap a towel around myself and walk to the bathroom, owing to problems mentioned earlier, I can't chnage clothes below the belt without being seated.

As I was saying, I was in the house with three young women, and I was busy cooking mutton biryani, and chicken curry, mince koftas and the works. There were three things simmering on the fire, and I dashed to have a bath. I had just wrapped my red towel around my waist, when I heard screaming. I came out to find a scruffy brute of a man tying up K, hands and feet. She was screaming; I was screaming and the goon went beserk. Before he lost his cool and did something vicious I shut up and told K to stop, so we could think properly and find our way out somehow. This seemed to calm him down.

I was wondering where the other two girls were, but didn't venture to find out. If they were hiding or had managed to get out, it was good for them and perhaps for us. I turned to the food on the hub. My mind was working furiously. I was scared. But there had to be some way out of this situation. What was the man after and why on earth had he barged into our house.

He was talking on the phone and from what I could decipher he was calling some other guys. I froze. And stayed frozen. The man was standing next to me.

I looked at him and he was looking at my red towel, which barely covered my knees, I clutched it at the waist. On the spur of the moment I took off the lids on two of the dishes. His attention shifted as I wanted it to. He became interested in the food and wanted to know what I was cooking that had such a delicious aroma.

I didn't waste a moment and took him down the Indian culinary lane. His senses were taken by the aromas and description of what was cooking. That's when a thought struck me; The way to a man's heart must be through his stomach, but the way to befuddle his mind is through his nose! His mind and eyes were no longer interested in the red towel, or K who was tied up and lying helpless on the ground.

On a hunch I asked if his friends were coming and to my dismay he said yes. How many I asked and he confirmed two. Oh then I would need a helping hand I told him and asked for K to be untied. He acquiesced without a murmur. I was getting bolder by the second. I got K to stand with me and pretend to help. She was trembling like a leaf in a storm. The goon stared at the red towel again as he walked away and I whispered to K to see where the other two were without raising the goon's suspicion.

The food was cooked. The goons were seated and served. While they ate like animals, K and the other two girls went to the back balcony and shouted for help. But strangely, everyone on the street vanished into their homes. The men heard the screaming and wanted to check what was happening. I assured them it was the neighbours squabbling as usual.

K returned and told me that we could escape if these men were kept at the table and stuffed with food. So while I kept them supplied with food and cajoled them to have more, K and the two girls slipped out the back door. On the pretense of calling K, I walked out too and bolted...the door before I tottered on my shaky legs, clutching on to my red towel for dear life!

It wasn't long before they were hounding us. We came to a crossroad and there on the opposite side were K's parents in their car, at a red light. We waved, we yelled, we pointed to the goons in the distance. They remained frozen.

"We have to do something aunty," K announced. I agreed.

We must have done something brilliant because I woke up in my bed with a raging fever. It was viral. The red towel was where I had hung it to dry in the morning.

I smiled wanly as I turned on my side; who knew that a red towel would go viral!



Kadhai: It's an Indian wok. It is deeper that a Chinese wok and doesn't flare out too much at the top.


  1. Hi, could not stop laughing at your bossiness (you look too sweet). Do share Tahiri's recipe, it sounds good.

    1. Thanks Rachna. Here's the tahiri recipe, though I'm not sure about the quantities, as I don't measure things. I go by approximation born out of experience.

      Rice.....1 cup
      onion....1 medium, diced
      garlic...4-5 pods
      ginger...1/2" pc
      Crush both garlic and ginger in a mortar and pestle. I do not recommend the mixer.
      potatoes...1-2 depending on size and quantity of rice.Dice into easy bites.
      tomatoes....3 big ones or 4 if small. dice into small pices.
      coriander use acc to amt of rice
      turmeric........... " " "
      red chilli powder.. " " "
      mint leaves( fresh or dried) I recommend Keya Mint. It's a very good quality of dried mint.
      Garam masala.......a small sprinkle
      Black cardamom......2
      cinnamon stick......2 small sticks
      cummin seeds........a tsp should do
      bay leaf............1 broken into two

      Wash the rice (basmati) and leave to soak for about fifteen minutes. Heat a mixture of oil and ghee in a pan. Drop in the bay leaf, cummin seeds, cardamoms, cinnamon and cloves. The cummin should not turn a dark brown. Add the chopped onions and stir. When the onions begin to brown at the edges, put in the crushed garlic-ginger, stir a few seconds and add the chopped tomatoes. reduce to low flame and cover to allow the tomatoes to soften. Now add salt, coriander pwdr, chilli pwdr, turmeric. raise heat and stir around for a few seconds. reduce to medium and add the diced potatoes. Add some water, not too much, and cook on low heat. When the potatoes are done, add the soaked and drained rice.

      Gently turn it around to amalgamate the masalas. Add double the quantity of water to the rice. Ratio being 1 rice: 2 water. Check for salt. Now sprinkle the garam masala and mint over it. Cover and cook till rice is done.
      Enjoy with an onion-tomato-fresh coriander raita!

  2. Your writing always captivates me! Now I am worried, did goons almost get you or was that a fevered dream? Going to the Hombres instead of the Senoritas has happened to me before. I think past a certain age, ladies should be allowed to go where ever is closest!

    1. Totally agree with you Annie, about the facilities! Don't worry that was a fevered dream. Though it did seem so real...LOL

  3. Haha.. loved your stories! I almost jumped out of my bed when I read about the goons :D

    1. I dream a dream of youuuu....and it becomes a comical nightmare...LOL Glad you enjoyed the reading K!

  4. Oh my, you had me going there for a bit! So glad all is well and you are well too. :)

  5. I don't need to say how good you write as I have said that before too, but the justified comment would be - You make a guy like me read with interest who otherwise can't go beyond the reading of 3-4 lines feeling forced. Keep writing, keep breathing and keep enjoying the life while sharing the Joy with others and bringing smiles to people's faces.

    1. Johny, thank you so much! This is so encouraging.