mohabhoj


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Almost Cakeless

The first day of May this year was a milestone for us. Five years ago on this day we had vowed to stand by each other until death or divorce (whichever comes knocking first) do us part.

The dormant baker within me rises on each anniversary. This time I wanted to tread the path of change and celebrate with a store bought cake instead. But God had other plans!

As we were vacationing on Cape Cod for the weekend, I had plans to pick up the anniversary cake from a quaint family-run Portuguese bakery shop in Provincetown. As I hurried down Main Street in the evening, braving the chilly winds, I could picture myself mesmerized by the warmth of the store, inhaling the sweet smell of freshly baked cakes and croissants. This would be my fifth visit to the store in the last three years. I also harbored a latent desire to take-out some of their other specialities–the cream filled cannoli, fruit tarts, the sweet malasadas, the donuts filled with custard and blueberry scones–for savoring later.

I walked down the street reminiscing about the baked treasures and relishing the thought that they would soon be pleasuring my palate. Yes, I could see the store from a distance. But to my dismay the ‘OPEN’ sign wasn’t aglow. I increased my pace only to find myself staring at the store plunged in darkness. Reality struck me like lightning—the store was closed! We were a month too early; the tourist season begins here only from June.

I returned to our hotel room with a fake smile on my face. A little self-consoling helped. It was our anniversary eve and I still could bake one after I returned home the next day, our big day. On our way back home I stopped at the local grocery store to pick up some ready-made frosting to spur on the cake-making session.

The baking countdown began as soon as I entered the kitchen. The mixing bowl was brought out. So was the flour, sugar and baking chocolate, all in required quantities. All I needed were eggs. I opened the refrigerator door and stooped to get the egg carton from the lowest rack. My heart skipped a beat as I lifted the carton. It felt too light to be nestling the six eggs I needed. I begged for a miracle and opened the carton to find two eggs staring mockingly at me.

Our fifth anniversary was doomed to be cakeless!

As I lay awake in my bed that night the realization dawned upon me that we didn’t need once a year anniversaries and cakes to celebrate or reassure us of our love for each other. Together we have traversed a long way, and each day spent together is a celebration in itself.

So I baked a cake the day after!!

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I love you too…

We bond two times a day no matter what.

Three at times.

And four if I am lucky!

A cup of water goes into the microwave for exact three minutes. A five-year-old steel tea-bowl nestling a spoonful of tea leaves and a tablespoon of sugar patiently waits as the countdown begins. The microwave beeps three times. The boiling water hits the bowl. A quick stir before it’s left alone to steep for four minutes. A dash of milk adds the final touch and my morning cuppa is just a strain away.

The excitement I feel before I savor my first sip is only comparable to the excitement a bungee jumper feels before s/he lets go. Or so I like to think! I relish every sip like it was my first. As my lips touch the cup, my eyes close and I feel the hot liquid slowly riding down my throat.

I religiously drink two cups of tea a day no matter what. One at sunrise (10 O’clock to be honest) and another at sunset.

Three, at times I feel an extra cup could variegate a moment.

And four cups if I am lucky. Happens occasionally when my husband gives in to my plea to indulge him in a cup of tea. Such occasions call for masala chai. A cup of milk, a cup of water put to boil with a Tetley masala tea bag dunked in and two teaspoon of sugar to sweeten the concoction. I grate some ginger into the boiling pot just to add a personal touch.

I have a fetish for teacups too. My kitchen cabinet is stacked with different types of teacups. The white ceramic ones, now bearing scratch marks, toils during the day. The precious flamboyant regal red ones make an appearance to grace special moments. The black ones with white flora and fauna prints, originally meant for guests, are called to duty when the rest enjoy their day off in the sink. The Chinese teacups are meant strictly for green tea.

I believe tea tastes much better when you have company. It has the magical power of invigorating any ‘adda’ (chat) session. I remember the two ten-minute daily tea breaks I took with my colleagues during my stint at Anandabazar Patrika. Cardamom tea, Parle-G biscuit and gossip were all we needed to refresh us. I soon realized that my craving for cardamom tea was just an infatuation when I replaced it with masala tea. Now I force my taste buds into tasting green tea once in a while, realizing each time it’s not my cup of tea. But Darjeeling tea was my first love and remains so till date.

When I travel almost eight thousand miles from Kolkata to Boston I load my suitcase with Darjeeling tea leaves, securely packed, to last me a year. My last packet from Kolkata is almost over but then my in-laws will be visiting us soon. So each time I scoop out a teaspoon from the now half empty jar, I smile knowing it will be full soon. Did I say half empty? I was only being pragmatic not pessimistic.

If you share my passion for tea I suggest you read this article (link provided below) by Yoko Ono. It’s a good read even if tea is not your source of caffeine.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/08/opinion/08ono.html