I am sitting in the dining room, back home (Having been married for more than a decade, home is and will always be my parent’s house; one where I grew up with my little sister and one where my little girl spends her summer vacations each year). My little chefling is enjoying the makhane ki kheer her nani made for her to try and I am looking at both of them enjoying each other’s company with a cup of coffee in my hand. My parents don’t drink coffee but always make sure they have a jar ready for me when we visit.
Khana thanda ho jayega! The only way to enjoy food is to eat it when hot, warm. Ask any mum and she’ll tell you so. She’d even go to the extent of switching off the fan until you’re ready to eat! Listen to her, especially, if you dread the sight of malai atop your glass of milk, or kheer!
I like to savour my coffee. It is one of those things that keep the mother in me sane during the vacations when you hear “I am bored”, “I am hungry” and “Can you play with me?” multiple times a day. Not too rushed. Not disrespecting the beverage I have a lot of regard for. Not too hot. Not too cold. Just perfect. I pick up my cup and take a sip. I almost puke.
And I realise it is that thin layer of clingy malai floating on top that has made its way to my mouth and was now clung to tongue coating it with its slimy texture. Oh how I hated it! And how I had forgotten its very existence! After having spent decades in India we moved to Dubai some years back. With just a three-hour flight between Delhi and Dubai it is comforting to know you can be home when you want. Infact, being in Dubai is very similar to being in Delhi. With a huge Indian population, we celebrate all our festivals, wear our salwars and sarees with pride, and basmati rice, vegetables, spices, even soaps are all a phone call away! Yes, it a home away from home. But. But we don’t have fans. There is only central air conditioning in most of our homes. Ours too. So in the last few years I had kind of forgotten how the combination of a ceiling fan running over your head and a cup of coffee kept under it could make you gag. I muster some courage and dip my finger into the coffee and push away the rest of the malai on to the sides of the cup. Just like my sister and I would do when my mum would give us our big glass of Horlicks each evening, before we headed out to the park to play. We hated it and mum would say you take so long to come that the milk gets cold and malai forms. Drink when it’s hot. Also, why can’t you both simply gulp it down along with the malai, would be her next statement. We can’t! We just can’t! Both of us would say in a chorus and she would shrug her shoulders and go back to what she was doing. Don’t take me wrong I love cream. But in a Paneer Makhni or a Butter Chicken or on a Shahi Tukra. Just not the kind that forms in my glass of milk. The malai on coffee took me straight back to my childhood.
Once the fan was spinning, there were reminders to eat as fast as we could kyunki khana thanda ho jayega aur puri garam garam hi achi lagti hai!!
Khana thanda ho jayega was something we all grew up with, I guess. Much as we treasured the running fan, lunch and dinner hours were times when mum would switch it off while we helped her set the table and it would remain like that till everyone had joined. Once the fan was spinning, there were reminders to eat as fast as we could kyunki khana thanda ho jayega aur puri garam garam hi achi lagti hai!! Sunday mornings were always special. No school. No mad rush to get ready or to have breakfast. My sister and I would get up late and mum being the Indian mum (All “good children” must have a glass of milk with Horlicks first thing in the morning) would give us a tall glass of milk each. However, this time there wasn’t any rush to gulp it down. We would get the big blue “Brite” box that had rusks for me and the yellow “Brite” oval one that had Parle-G for my sister to dip in our milk. Along with that was the Sunday newspaper and the supplements to give us company. But enjoying this experience required some strategic planning. The rusk dabba had to be kept on one corner of the paper and on the other side stood the glass of milk precariously balancing itself on the mattress. Ditto for my sister with her Parle G dabba and her glass of milk. Why you ask! Because of the fan that made the newspaper fly in all the directions possible and prevented us from enjoying our dunking and reading ritual! Our mum of course would warn us each time she passed by our room that the glass of milk of would land on the bed and why we couldn’t sit on the dining table and read and drink!! Thanks to our dexterity it never did. Such lovely and beautiful memories of childhood came back as I sat under the ceiling fan and watched the blades of the fan rotating over my head. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you sit under a ceiling fan? I’d love to hear.
Keep blowing the Trumpet! This & many more stories await in the pages!