September 2. Friday. 2 p.m.
My flight is scheduled to leave Boston, for Atlanta, at 6 p.m.
I am hit by a sudden urge to clean the refrigerator. I open the fridge door to find a packet of baby carrots staring at me helplessly.
The image of a heaping bowl of gajar ka halwa (carrot porridge) flashes by.
The food processor is called to action.
I rush to the pantry. After a short struggle I manage to reach the duo of evaporated milk sitting at the topmost shelf.
I look at the can opener — another struggle awaits.
I pour the pre-thickened milk into the pot and turn the burner on.
I fry the shredded carrots in a heaping spoonful of clarified butter (ghee) and add it to the boiling milk.
Adding sugar, stirring, scraping — the cycle continues.
It’s finally done.
Leaving it to cool down, I run to pack.
I pour the concoction inside a plastic container and put it in my hand luggage.
We leave for the airport.
A long line at the security checkpoint.
I pass through the metal detector and reach out to collect my bag.
“Ma’am is this your bag?” asks the TSA officer.
“Please step aside.”
He puts on his blue gloves and opens my bag. He pulls out the plastic container and gives me a puzzled look.
“It’s a kind of Indian sweet.”
“What does it contain?”
“Carrots and milk.”
“I am sorry ma’am, but I can’t allow you to carry this. It has a gel-like consistency. You can either eat it now or go back and check-in your bag. Or else I need to throw it.”
“I had put in a lot of effort to make it,” I plead.
“I can’t help,” he says.
I look at the long line at the security checkpoint.
“Then throw it away,” my voice chokes.
“OK, have a good day ma’am.”
Atlanta in another three hours.