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Happily Ever After??

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We start early when it comes to acquiring aversions. As children we are mostly averse to milk, studies, pesky relatives who love tweaking our cheeks. I had all of these and a special one – an aversion to newlyweds.
My first brush with this strange species was as a six year old on a summer trip to Mount Abu. A giggly, coochie-cooing group infesting the back rows of our sightseeing bus. Unfortunately they took a shine to me and I was mostly perched on their laps, privy to the most inane conversations ever heard and embarrassing public displays of affection. Every time we halted they would scurry off to the nearest cliff and pose kamasutra style with me as the hapless spectator. Needless to say I was traumatized.
From Gangtok to Ooty, Kanyakumari to Kalimpong , there was no escaping them. You could hear them before you could spot them. Hysterically happy, over made up girls tottering on high heels clinging for dear life to their macho mates. But what puzzled me the most was how just a few years down the line the same couples would turn into stoical uncles and aunties with a bunch of wailing kids in tow. Domesticity kills and how! Quite like the before and after ads that slimming centres love splashing in newspapers.
Time stops for no one and soon it was time for me to bear the ignominy of being “newly married”. After a whirlwind courtship where I managed to run up telephone bills that had my parents in the throes of panic attacks, I was ready to play house with the man of my dreams.
On our honeymoon, I was cautious, very cautious. I didn’t giggle and maintained a safe distance from my puzzled husband. I looked somber, almost angry at the world. I was so sans the usual jingbang one associates with a newlywed that we had curious people make surreptitious enquires about our marital status or rather the lack of it. We didn’t bother to clear the air.
Hey! We had fun too. Smoked my first cigarette, had my first bottle of wine, tried my hand at cooking and failed miserably. A tantalizing teaser to our rosy future.
Men and women have diametrically different expectations from this holy union called marriage. We, the fairer sex have silly romantic notions and the men expect us to be a wife, and not just an ordinary wife. Now these are guys who grew up watching ads which show the lady of the house cooking up a six course meal with a beatific smile plastered on her face. Is overjoyed when her kid comes back home in soiled clothes. And cleaning utensils is her lifelong passion. She scours and scrubs from morn to noon and she still manages to look like a million bucks. The occasional back pain is taken care of by MOOV massaged lovingly by the husband.
And then they marry us. Imperfect creatures who stress easily, worry constantly and think household chores are mind numbing.
After a few weeks of fun and frolic (honeymoon and a stay with in-laws) it was time to get down to the business of living together in our rented accommodation in Delhi. I was a novice at the threshold of domesticity, whose expertise extended to straightening crumpled bed covers and making amoeba shaped chapattis. But when you are young, hopelessly in love, technicalities of running a household are mere formalities.
For nearly a fortnight we sailed through. He found it amusing that I was such a cleanliness freak. I cleaned cupboards, rearranged closets, dusted furniture with passion. The window grills which had quite forgotten they were once white were restored to their former glory. We had a maid who would clean the house and the utensils. Life was good, sparkling clean, till it was time for me to enter the kitchen. All this while I had avoided this excursion thanks to the many dinner invitations and weekends spent with my parents. A stray day or two were taken care of by eating out.
But my mate was dying for some good ol’ home cooked khana made lovingly by his brand new wife. He soon started dropping gentle hints. He would fix up elaborate breakfasts, show off his culinary expertise obviously expecting a reciprocal gesture.
But when you are whispering sweet nothings into each other’s ears, looking adoringly into each other’s eyes do you actually have the time to confess that you can’t cook to save your life! Well I had made a few half hearted attempts at it during my college days. But what do you do when your Mom, Dad even your kid brother are amazing cooks! You just eat right? That’s precisely what I did and made just the right noises to further encourage them in their gastronomic pursuit. I thought this ploy will work as successfully with my soul mate too, but alas it didn’t. Unable to procrastinate any further I made a desperate call to my mum, consulted my friends and voila I was ready to serve a dish or two. But the problem with cooking is it’s an endless cycle of chopping, frying, stewing and to further the agony you are supposed to roll out chapattis as well. After a couple of hours of toil I emerged sweaty, near ecstatic and served my first dinner ever. To my utter misfortune it turned out to be palatable (actually delicious according to me). Darling, not bad at all…so what are we having for dinner tomorrow?
So began my domestic phase, coming back from office and having to worry about self made dinners. But the typical lazy bum I was, I tried to avoid it as much as possible. Honey you make the most amazing Palak Gosht, so are we having it tonight? Office was so stressful, can we order in? Let’s pile on Gopa Di (a benign sweet neighbor).
To further add to the agony we were expected to shop for veggies as well. Come Thursday and both of us would head out with voluminous bags to the weekly haat. Two brave hearts scouting for the freshest of fresh vegetables. This onerous task was deftly passed on to my perfectionist of a hubby. I don’t like getting too involved in all the nitty-gritties. But lugging all those heavy bags, the chaos, the noise and the smells would get so overwhelming and exhausting that we would end up eating out yet again.
Fast forward to the future. We are now responsible parents to our teenaged offspring who is even lazier than her mum. Indian women in ads are still cooking delectable treats for their family, but sans unhealthy fat and sugar. The family breaks into an impromptu musical while doing chores (what will they think of next). The newlyweds have gone global now. They are now traumatizing the world at large.
It has been nineteen years of domesticity and I continue to be a cleanliness freak but a reluctant cook. The husband no longer finds it amusing though. He still fixes up elaborate breakfasts and when it’s my turn it’s usually cereals (hey I believe in healthy eating). But now I have two ad-like ladies cooking and cleaning without a murmur of protest. They are my lifeline, my maids.
But the better, bitter?? half still has a cherished dream of me cooking a six course zinger of a meal just for him. Hopefully he won’t have to wait another nineteen years for that.

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Easy to fix a seven course meal, or even twenty.

Cooking in this day and age should be an afterthought with the various alternatives flooding the market, from frozen paneers to steaming hot home delivered food. However, if hubby insists on bubbly's touch there is an easy solution. Send hubby on an errand and outsource a seven course dhamaaka, arranging for a secret backdoor delivery with codewords and hand signals. Once the loot is delivered hide it in the kitchen cabinet and act busy slicing and dicing chasing everybody out of the kitchen. After sufficient huffing and puffing announce the dinner bell and march everybody to the dinner table. Then serve the outsourced curry under your brand name. Hubby khush, bubbly khush, and B khush. Software companies in US routinely employ this strategy and they are living happily ever after. Tata consultancy cooks and Oracle serves, customers go Ga Ga.

What a cracker of an idea,

Purba Ray's picture

What a cracker of an idea, Sanjoy!!!

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