Like many of my male friends. I never went into the kitchen. Occasional forays to make scrambled eggs, coffee apart. Then came COVID-19. My niece and her husband trapped with us on the verge of a posting abroad. Both very adept in the culinary arts, the niece kept us grinning and smiling with Indian cuisine while the son in law impressed his grandmother in law and me with dosas, vadas, cutlets, burgers, pizzas, fancy salads and I hear a donner will come our way shortly.

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To help relieve them, I ventured to make Jackfruit one day. Stepped up to make Kamal Kakdi a day later. Little by little, from Bandh Gobi to Sukha Meat, Rajma, Chhole, Lobia, Butter Chicken, and Pepper Chicken I made everything. Successful in some, highly unsuccessful at others. Especially when I tried my hand at making a typical Macher Jhol one night and ended up making fish bhurji… such is life, my Bengali DNA has found no peace since then.

I learnt recipes from friends and cooked. I also took last-minute tips on how to salvage a few dishes from the brink of disaster from a dear friend.

In the process, I discovered that the kitchen was a great school for learning.

One picked up multi-tasking without intending to. And that salt in a dish was like certain people in your life, you couldn’t do without.

I discovered that one small misstep could leave your confidence and ego shattered and also that like all customers big or small, each dish needed complete attention. And finally, that like in life, it wasn’t the grand gestures but that small pinch of secret masala or the cropped dhaniya on the top, at the end, which made the difference to any dish. Sixty days of trial and error, haven’t given up!😊

I discovered that the kitchen was a great school for learning. One picked up multi-tasking without intending to.

Planning to try butter chicken and naan tonight, while an elaborate recipe for Biryani rests in my notebook. It looks daunting and needs a leap of faith, but will get there too!  So, while the country and the world suffers, Industry collapses and the economy flounders. Why am I going on about all this?

Because along the way I realised once again that I can’t get it all my way.
I can’t have locusts not destroying the crops in my country.
I can’t instil necessary sensitivity in my leaders to deal with these endless crises.
I can’t stop cyclones, super cyclones coming my way, and I can’t find a cure overnight for COVID-19.

Like in life, it wasn’t the grand gestures but that small pinch of secret masala or the cropped dhaniya on the top, at the end, which made the difference to any dish.

In simple words, I can’t have the whole ice cream I would want to have. But I found I could steal a few licks here and there. A few moments stolen away from life without all its burdens and impositions and no one else but me knowing. I know I am not alone in my thoughts. So… Let me steal a few more moments of tiny joys from my life… And pray we all come out good.

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While with all sincerity and from the bottom of my heart, I pray that the child on the platform in Bihar finds succour in another pair of motherly arms.

The views expressed are the author’s own.

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