Monday, January 28, 2013

From Chef To Cook

Diary Entry – 50

When I was left to fend for myself in the past, I usually went to the nearest restaurant which offered the cheapest food. Hygiene did not concern me because I had a gut of steel. You could say I never starved in India like how I starved in the country I am in now.

In September 2012, I found myself in this country where the food is outrageously expensive. I decided to have a Domino’s pizza which used to cost me a few hundred rupees back home in India. The bill I got here however reminded me of the time I had food in a Taj hotel.

Since a pizza itself had become so expensive, I started eating cereal and sandwiches three times a day. Needless to say, I missed my mother greatly who was now five thousand miles away. She had kept me fed for most of my life. It was during this desperate time, that I strongly considered the option of marriage. When my friends asked me why I wanted to get married, I said, “To Stay Alive.” My married classmate told me I needed a maid with benefits and not wife. Turns out his wife can’t cook and if he didn’t know how to cook, they would have had to starve together.

See, cooking is not easy for me. When I was a kid, there was only one place in the world that I was afraid of and that was the kitchen. There were so many sharp things that can cut you among other things that could create a possible gas explosion. I still think the stove is going to explode when I enter the kitchen.
Since I had to learn to cook somehow, I decided to hang out with the so called cooking experts from India. These expert cooks impressed me by claiming to be able to make Lemon Rice. But I wasn’t truly impressed till I saw them in action. They made lemon rice in just two steps:

1. Make Rice Using The Microwave.
2. Take “Lemon Rice Mix” and mix it with rice. Lemon Rice ready!

They gave Maggi noodles a run for its money. So much for learning from the experts. I however gained considerable courage in using the stove and I was able to make fried eggs. If you go to a restaurant there is big distinction between a chef and a cook. Someone who can cook is a cook. Someone who can create a new menu however, is called a chef. It is like the difference between a worker who lays bricks and an architect. Usually people go from being a cook to being a chef. I however did things the other way round. It might have been because of my aspiration to be the best that I thought following recipes were just a waste of time. I started making dishes that I don’t wish to name here. When my own personal safety became a cause for concern, I started using recipes.

I have seen considerable success as a cook. Every time I cook now, tears roll down my face and I ask myself “Did I just make this?” I spend more time taking pictures of what I made these days. I know a few women who used to gloat because they made fried rice or biryani. It was back in the old days when those kind of things used to impress me because I couldn’t do it myself. Now, I send them pictures of the stuff I make and I get a weird form of evil pleasure from it. I am no longer in a hurry to get married. If I did give out personal marriage ads, it would have changed from " seeking a girl adept in cooking" to " seeking a girl who doesn't mind cutting the vegetables and doing the dishes."

P.S - Someone insisted that I add that I still cannot make Dosas with the perfect shape. So that goes here in the P.S.

Everything in the pictures in this post was made and consumed by The Narcissist




Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Practical Guide To Being Polite

Diary Entry - 49

Back home in India my relatives laud my mother on raising a polite and well-mannered boy. The British however think otherwise.

It all started when I went to class here in the UK a little late and found myself without a pen. I was fortunate enough to find myself sitting next to a good female friend who I had acquainted myself with over the weeks. In India, if I forgot my pen and if the lecture was going on, I would take the pen out of my friend's pocket with only a few hand and eye movements being exchanged. I thought since I was in England and since the person sitting next to me was a girl, I should do things the old fashioned way and so I actually told the girl sitting next to me “Hey Christy, give me your pen” before I took it.

Never did I think I would offend someone so much by taking a pen. You think you know how to talk in English until you realize every word that comes out your mouth has the potential to offend someone. Later I learn that if I had to borrow a pen from Christy the proper way, I should begin by first exclaiming “Oh god I forgot my pen at home. What do I do now!” Most people don’t react to your problems and Christy might have been no exception. So then you look at her pen and say, “Oh that pen that you have there, looks really nice. Where did you get it?”. She will get the message and just so that she doesn't seem inconsiderate she will say, “Oh hey you can use my pen.” Now you don’t take the pen straight after she offered it to you, because that will make you seem like you are someone who exploits other people’s kindness. So what do you do? You say, “Oh thank you. But wouldn’t you mind if I used your pen to write down my notes?” for which she will say “Oh not at all.” Then as you take her pen from her hand, you repeat several times the words, “Are you sure?” before you actually take the pen and start writing with it. That’s not the end of it. While writing with her pen, you say, “Oh this pen writes so well. I have never seen a pen like this before in my life.” The idea is to compliment the pen that she gave you and you are supposed to do this even if it doesn't write properly. Then after you finished writing with her pen, you return it while remembering to say “Thank you so much”. It is important that you follow these instructions to the letter, otherwise you risk offending her. For example, if you forgot to say thank you Christy would have felt used. I had trouble saying thank you after borrowing a pen from someone I knew well because saying thank you after borrowing a pen is all it takes to freak out your friends in India.

It was very hard for me to talk in a way the British found polite but I have it all figured out now. All I do now is look at every normal conversation that I have, as a conversation with my high school vice principal Sita miss (Yeah we called teachers miss in our school, instead of madame because we didn't want them to feel old). Students of my school feared Sita miss because she was an angry woman who could talk on stage without the aid of a microphone. The entire auditorium would be able to hear her loud and clear. We always thought she could make a career in Italy as an opera singer, if she wasn’t so short tempered. So before every conversation I have in this country I think of Sita miss. Say there is this guy next to me having a pack of chips (or crisps as they call it Britian) and it is making my mouth water. Since I don’t want to be rude I think in my head, “How will I ask Sita miss to share her packet of chips with me?” It will not be long before I realize that getting my own bag of chips is the best course of action in the UK.

The skill of being polite is however a worthy skill to have and if you attain sufficient mastery of this skill, you can insult or be rude to someone in a very polite way. I will teach you a few things I have learnt on how to tell people the truth without offending them:

1.  Say something very rude and say it is cute - Hey you are wearing too much make up. It makes you look cute. 

2.  Insult someone and say you don’t know any better - I think what you are wearing is horrible. My sense of fashion must suck.

This is especially useful, with members of the family or friends, where you want to say what you think but don’t want to offend them. Like say you have a sister-in-law and she comes to your marriage wearing a gaudy dress and with an awful lot of makeup. The only way to tell her the truth and have a happily married life is by being polite. 

I know it is Monday. Just so that you know, I am still sticking to my new year resolution of posting every Sunday. My excuse for posting on Monday instead of Sunday is that the two days have only the first two letters different. 


Monday, January 14, 2013

Why I Don't Read Or Watch The News

Diary Entry – 48

I don’t read the newspaper. I don’t watch the news on the television or on the internet. If you ask me who the president of India is, I will say Abdul Kalam. Believe it or not, I just googled “President of India” and found out it was Pranab Mukherjee.  What a shock that was. I thought Pranab Mukherjee was still the finance minister.

These kind of shocks are every day for me now. Last Christmas when I was in India, I was flicking through the channels and every other news channel was talking about Sachin Tendulkar and his cricketing career. There were also these old players who used to play in the Indian cricket team talking about how they knew Sachin as a boy. I had no idea why they were talking about Sachin out of the blue because the Indian cricket team was losing ever single match they played. This made me think Sachin Tendulkar died.  I was later told that he was retiring from international cricket. In spite of all this I still struggle to understand why anybody will waste their time reading the newspaper if he/she didn’t want to ace the comprehension section in the GRE. I rather watch the discovery channel instead of the news on the television. 

I live in the UK now and when I came to India for Christmas my Indian friend had to tell me this:

Macha is used like bro or dude in a South Indian language called Tamil (I have readers from the UK you see). Macha actually means brother-in-law. Here macha is my buddy whose name I cannot reveal for my own personal safety)

Macha:  The British rule of India was the greatest tragedy in the history of our country.

See my macha knew how I would respond. He also knew I don’t read the newspaper leave alone the editorial columns and he purposely brought this up so he could show off.

Me: Apidi solladha macha (Don’t say like that dude). The British did give us a few good things like the railway system and roads.

Macha: Do you know why they built the railway system and roads? The British used the railways to move grains to the ports during a time when there was great famine. It caused the death of millions of Indians.

Me: Oh. I did not know that da.

Macha: That is why you should read the newspaper. Otherwise you will have a flawed world view like this.

Me: Dei idhukum adhukum enna sambandham? (What is the connection between reading the newspaper and my worldview.)

Macha: Pinne enna da, you are in a way saying that if the British had not colonized India, we would not have developed.

I usually nod my head and don’t bother telling people my world view. But when my world view itself was mocked, I just had to tell him.

Me: I am not saying that. I know that the British did a lot of bad things, but the way every Indian should see the British is the way you see Nisha. (Nisha is macha’s ex girl friend.)

Macha: Nisha va edhuku da summa illukere? (Why are you dragging Nisha into this?)

Me: Macha, when you were in a relationship with her, you hated her, you felt exploited and you even wasted your money buying her food in the name of going out on a date.

Macha: Dei kadupu ethadha! (Don’t irritate me!)

Me: Matter kaelu da. (Listen da.) When you finally did break up and move on with your life, you didn’t want to call your past relationship a tragedy. You instead wanted to look at the time you spent in the relationship with her and say - "some good things came out of something bad."

Macha: How the hell is Nisha like the British?

Me: Indha British pasangalam Nisha madhri dhan. (India’s story with the British is also like your relationship with Nisha). Your ex girl friend gave you maturity, the British gave Indians the railways. I am not saying it is the best thing that ever happened, all I am saying is we are looking into some of the good thing that came out of something bad.
Macha: Onne kitta poi sonnane parru, enna serupala adikanam. (For telling you this, I should remove whatever I am wearing on my feet and hit myself with it.)

Me: Onna yarru scene poda sonnadhu. (Who asked you to show off.)

In India, there are people who think reading the newspaper every day somehow increases their IQ. Macha was one of them. What these people fail to understand is that just because someone doesn’t know about something, doesn’t mean that they are not intelligent enough to talk about it.

I am sticking with my new year resolution by posting every Sunday. However, I post in GMT so that it might be Monday In India, when I post here in the UK.    

Previous Post - The Phone That Lived

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Phone That Lived

Diary Entry - 47

This is not a phone review. Well maybe it is, but not the kind you usually read. Often you hear users of the Nokia 1200, basic phone tell you how awesome their phone is. I am one of those people. But the time came when I had to leave the country and I faced tremendous pressure from my friends to get a new phone. My pathetic old phone did not have whatsapp they said. 

See I loved my phone for several reasons. Once when I came home from hostel, I forgot to take my phone out of my bag. My darling mother has a habit of cleaning everything that ventured outside the house. Washing is something she enjoys so much, that some people in the family used to think she suffered from OCD. So when my perfectly clean bag from hostel, entered the house, she HAD to clean it. I think in her haste to clean my bag, she missed to see my poor phone which was inside. She rinsed and soaked my bag, in water. Have you ever washed your phone with water? My mother has washed mine with SURF EXCEL. 

Eventually I ended up searching for my phone and found it in my bag which was soaked in water. Needless to say I was angry with my mother for being so careless. She had this weird smile which made me think, she wanted to wash my phone ever since I first got it from the store. This is not the first time. My head phones and USB cables has got washed before. Have I told you about my laptops motherboard going bust after my mother decided to wipe it with a wet cloth? 

I should have been careful and I know some of you might be wondering how the hell I forgot to take my phone out of my bag, in the first place. It’s like forgetting my arm somewhere rite? Well when you are single and when the only people who bother to call you are your parents, the probability of you misplacing your phone is tripled. As for my phone which went through the Surf Excel wash, it survived. If I could miniaturize people (people who tell me my phone sucks) to the size of my mobile phone, and if I could soak them in Surf Excel for more than an hour, I am pretty sure they will not make it out alive. My phone however will come out a survivor.

When you own something as indestructible as my phone, you own something that becomes part of your family heirloom. It is something you can pass down to your great grandchildren. I now have a HTC. But you will still find me proudly carrying my old phone around on certain days.

I know I haven’t written much in my blog for quite some time now. I can give you several reasons as to why but why will you be bothered rite? Well you should be. I am now part of the Illuminati and my spare time is spent on making plans for world domination. I am currently undergoing secret training in the UK. However my blog is just as important as world domination and so I have made a New Year resolution to write every Sunday from today. God knows how long this will last but here is hoping that this will be a productive year where the Narcissist will shine with all his glory. Happy New Year.  

 Readers who just read the last line of this blog post and comment happy new year below will feel my fist. 

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