Thursday, October 11, 2007

Take Me Home...Country Road

It has been over a month since I shifted into a 1BHK house from a Paying-Guest accommodation (affectionately called PG in Bangalore). Here’s a chronicle of the journey so far…

The week I moved-in, I had oatmeal for breakfast 3 days in a row before I got fed up of it. So, I started experimenting with the stuff I had around the kitchen. I think I made Upma first and it came out well. The feeling of achievement one gets upon cooking something well is unparalleled…And the truth is, when you cook something as simple as Daal-Chawal yourself and manage to get the proportion of salt right, you enjoy it better than PBM in your favourite restaurant!

Daal-Chawal brings dinnertime adventures. When I used to be in my hometown, once a pressure-cooker had blown up and my aunt had a narrow escape from serious injury. The water inside the cooker had apparently dried-up. Ever since then, I have been very apprehensive about pressure-cookers. In any case, I hate the noise they make. So, a simple act of cooking the staple food of millions of Indians – Daal-Chawal – became an act of immense courage. The first time I put the pressure-cooker on the gas-stove, I made sure there was plenty of water inside (the vessels were practically floating) and I stood peeping from the door waiting for the cooker to whistle. I must have looked so funny…I am glad I was alone at that point :)

Some of the Daal from this first day of cooking was leftover so I decided to make Sambar the next day. I have this cookbook called ‘The Foolproof Cookbook for Brides, Bachelors and Those Who Hate Cooking’ (how apt a title!) that came in handy. Once I got the feel of cooking, I was on my way…I even invited a few of my friends for Sunday lunch in just two weeks (my first guinea-pigs!). My mother had come down the previous week and taught me some of her specialities…that’s what I was practicing that Sunday. Now I have in my arsenal the following – Rasam, Sambar, Dahi-Besan, Chhole, Baingan-Bharta, Alu-Matar Ki Sabzi, Tomato Chutney, Vegetable Pulao, Peas Pulao, Puran-Poli and Chapatis. And I am still building it up!

Cleaning the house is another essential activity when you stay alone. In my opinion, mopping the floor (that is if you are not using a floor-mop with a 5 foot handle attached to it so that your spine doesn’t know any other angle but 180 degrees) is the best form of exercise – you have to bend your knees, bend your waist, spread your fingers wide (if you want the floor cleaned well) and then stretch to cover as much area in as little time as possible. It’s a really cool thing to do! I get totally disgusted about using my hands to pick it up the food gets stuck at the mouth of the kitchen sink pipe (yuck!) so I have this disposable spoon set aside specially for this purpose (Necessity is the mother of invention!) I have a roll of kitchen-tissue in the shelf and I think tissue papers are the greatest invention of mankind – they come in so handy – you can use them to wipe utensils, dry off vegetables, soak oil off fried stuff, clean the kitchen counter…The next best invention in my opinion is the Garbage Bag! (I only wish they were not made of plastic :( ) Of course you have to deal with the stench of stuff rotting in there since 2-3 days while you are tying them closed. And you have to deal with more than stench if you leave them in the balcony for picking up next morning, forget about them and the balcony happens to be frequented by rodents like rats for example!

Rats bring me to the company I have in my home…so all those who think I stay alone may correct themselves. The first visitor (and now resident) was an approximately 3-inch long lizard. It was polite enough to not go beyond the door and waited for me to come home and discover it before it discovered the rest of my house. And then I started finding it everywhere – above the shoe-rack (thank God it’s a closed one…imagine stepping into your shoe in the morning and finding something wiggling under your feet! Gives me the creeps!), near the tube light, inside (yes INSIDE) the kitchen shelf (which is a closed one too btw) behind the box of sugar (I didn’t make myself anything that needed sugar in it for about 2 days)…now it has kind of disappeared…I have driven it out of so many places that it must have got the message.

My mother saw the rat in the balcony first. Since then I started being a little careful about not leaving the door open. But it slipped my mind one day and the rat slipped in. I discovered that when I had just returned from office and was freshening up in the bathroom. I heard a noise and peeped out to see a black object with a tail near the balcony door (which I had closed tightly shut by then). Upon seeing me it darted back to wherever it was hiding. I must have stood at the bathroom door forever contemplating upon the POA. I mustered all my courage and stepped out gradually …listening for sounds of any movement. As I stepped out from behind the washing machine (my worst fear was for it to be right under the washing machine!), I heard rustling from under the refrigerator…poor thing it must have been as scared as I. Anyway, I kept moving one step at a time till I reached the wall and was in it’s line of fire…I had to escape the kitchen before it darted out at me…so I took this huge leap akin to Hanuman…must have been easily 4 feet across and landed directly in the corridor…mission accomplished! I switched off the lights in the kitchen and shut the door tightly.

The fun began when I returned at night with my Uncle, Aunt and two of my cousins – all ready to take over the gigantic 15-inch creature. It was a hilarious sight as my uncle, aunt and I stayed in the living room with our feet carefully kept off the ground and my cousins fought in the battlefield in the kitchen. They returned to announce triumphantly that they had driven the monster out when I asked them if they had checked under the washing machine. When they investigated, that’s where the intruder was found to have taken shelter. The second half of the battle began at the end of which, I am proud to announce, my cousins reclaimed the territory :)

The next unfortunate visitor was a 1-inch long salamander-type of a creature. I found it in the bathroom last week. I was yet to take a bath couldn’t as long as there was another dangerous creature in the bathroom (who knows it might have been poisonous too!). So, as usual I stood at the bathroom door (this time looking in the opposite direction as in the rat episode) wondering about the course of action. I just wanted it to go back to wherever it came from. So in an attempt to irritate it, I diluted some Eucalyptus oil in a cup and threw it at the creature…it started to run amuck…I started throwing a lot of water in that direction to steer it towards the water drain in the bathroom (which is where I presumed it came from)…a few seconds later, I saw it float lifelessly in a stream of water and deposit at the drain…I was a little shocked, I hadn’t meant to kill it at all…I hoped that it had only fainted (lizard?? Faint??) I kept checking on it until I was sure it was dead. I poured some more water in that direction and that thing just went into one of the holes and literally went down the drain (I did this on the 2nd of October…International Non-violence Day!!)…in hindsight, I realize…Eucalyptus Oil is effective at pest control…you could try it too!

Right now, a family of cockroaches is keeping me company. But I have got Mortein Gold – for all kinds of pests (imagine devilish smile). These critters are going to face their nemesis very soon.

Anyway, what also keeps good company is music on the MPS60 Neodymium speakers that came with my recently-bought Sony Ericsson W300i Walkman Phone. These adorable little things pack a lot of punch in any kind of music…even FM – it starts sounding heavenly on those speakers – and I am enjoying the phone thoroughly.

Of course there are books. My house came with an inbuilt showcase in the living room where I can keep (read show-off…if to no-one else then just to myself) all my books.

So, no more waking up to the most sullen face in this part of the galaxy, no eating food cooked by a grossly underpaid and overly exploited cook, no paying extra tax just because our oh-so-civilized owners were interested in evading the tax-guy…a place to call home, a dog that wags its tail as if I was the one it had been looking for since its past birth, my music, my books and a lot of peace (so much so that my ears pop after midnight sometimes!)…getting a place of my own feels like one of the best decisions I have made in a while and I hope it stays that way. As the McDonald’s tagline goes…I’m Lovin’ It!

4 Thinkers Pondered:

Vinni said...

eewwwwwww!!!!!!!!!groooooooooosssssssssss!!!
where are you staying? inside banerghatta park? seems like a wildlife park u have there. well if you like it so much. what the hell.
but i am not coming inside. no thank you. :-D
My grossness apart, I m glad u got a place of ur own actually. good for you.

RADhika said...

hey...nice review..! :)
now i'm seriously thinking of coming there...as you've got a place of your own.. :P

Anupama said...

Hey Vinni,
You know I would like nothing better than to live inside a wildlife park...so thanks for the compliment :)

Radhika,
You're most welcome anytime. Looking forward to a visit :)

Sowmya said...

This is so hilarious....

I am still laughing...
Even I shifted to a studio apartment after 3 plus years of staying in various PG's... I can understand the feeling... Now when I look back I wonder how on earth I managed to stay with sullen faces and idiosynchratic charactes for so long....