Saturday, March 06, 2010

Of Viagra Cake and Lasting Colours

Last weekend was Holi, and like every year, we Bengalis celebrated a day ahead. So while the rest of the country made merry on Monday, getting a nice, long weekend, we ended our celebrations on Sunday evening and went around with pink faces and morose expressions all Monday. Excited chatter from friends celebrating in other parts of the country did not help.

On the other hand, the weekend was packed. Friday I put in my daily showing at that slave plantation that laughingly calls itself my agency (my boss reads the blog so I really couldn't resist, besides, he's being mean about my holiday next week) and I don't remember what I did on Friday evening so we'll let that pass but on Saturday the fun began. I finished my chores early and dressed the boy and self and took the Metro to office. I know, I know, it's my flexi day so I could have worked from home, but a colleague was kind enough to procure bhang for me so I needed to pick that up. Rahul was tremendously excited about visiting "Awphish", like always, and why not, given to him it's a place filled with kind friends and computers where he may watch videos and Babu even has crayons, paper and a little toy car stashed away in her cabinet for him...

It also happened to be the day my agency turned forty years old (which, if you ask me, is more than a little cool) so preparations were in full swing. I had to give the party a miss since I was supposed to meet Ma at Dakshinapan and in my hurry I left my phone in office. Rahul and I walked down to the tram tracks hoping to catch a ride but the one tram that did appear refused to stop for us, much to a Very Little Boy's disappointment. I'm afraid he took it a bit personally. Anyway, so we hopped into a despised auto (what's three wheels when you could be riding in almost a 'twain'!) and got off at Park Circus. Since we were running quite late and it was past lunchtime for Rahul, I actually had the temerity to stick him into a cab (a mere car!) and promptly had to deal with a royal tantrum.

Luckily, Ma was easily found in Dakshinapan (there's a coin operated payphone cunningly hidden behind a pillar from where I called Vicky and asked him to beep the mater) and then we started on our grand curtain hunting expedition. It will surprise nobody who knows us two that we managed to buy several cut pieces, five sarees, a greeting card, two dolls and a keyring before we even entered the curtain shops. And then we broke for lunch, deciding Vicky could jolly well bring us some cash while we recuperated our strength. In exchange, we fed him the leftovers of our lunch. We are pretty nice to husbands in my family.

No curtains were bought that afternoon but we did land a gorgeous crochet and kalamkari bedspread (alternating diamonds and a deep lace border) with matching pillowcases. That will be my final gift to the Aged Rs for the year. I think I've been far too nice to them already and it's only March. (I plan to hijack the bedspread after she's used it once, but don't tell that.)

Rahul went off to Murramudi (you know it as Moore Avenue) with Ma and V while I slept. And woke up panicking because we were running late for our dinner invitation. It took another hour for us to pack our kits and leave home (it was to be a sleepover) and then we had to go to Tollygunge to pick R up. Since our dinner was at Rajarhat, this did not have a happy effect on my temper. Ally's horn had stopped working some days previously and that added anxiety to my irritation. All in all, I was set for a great evening.

It was 9 pm by the time we reached Rajarhat. I hadn't had the time to bake the cake I'd thought to take over, so I'd brought over the pre-measured ingredients, my silicone pan and the hand mixer. I'd figured it would be a piece of cake (aaargh) but that's before I discovered that Nilu and Shoma weren't sure of the settings on their microwave... the cake came out overdone and with a raised centre. The centre had actually lifted itself up and stayed that way. I half-heartedly cut it into wedges and now I know I shouldn't have: Nilu took one look at it and said the wedges looked like "ashi bochhorer buro Viagra kheyechhe." I don't really want to translate that but it roughly means that the slices looked like, um, an 80 yr old trying out Viagra. You get the picture.

Shoma's brother and sister-in-law had come over and we had a great time chatting. I was out early (midnight) because I was so tired from all the running around I'd done all day but the boys were still chatting at 4am when I woke up.

The upshot of it all was I was up, bright as a button, at 6 and had nothing to do, so I scrubbed Shoma's bathroom for her. I know, I know, I'm weird, but I'd have scrubbed mine if I'd been home and Shoma's an accomodating hostess in these matters.

Eventually we went up to the terrace to play Holi well into the morning. It was great fun. For once both Vicky and I forgot our ashaj and played and Rahul spent the whole time with his two wee hands stuck into the bucket of coloured water. He could not believe his luck, that not only was he allowed to do this but that he was actually encouraged! He did not think much of the abir (coloured powder) business, complaining that we were making him dirty, but oh, the joy on his face as he sat with all that water... he filled up his little "phishkiri" (phichkiri, a little bottle for squirting coloured water) and emptied it right back into the bucket so as not to waste it on people. We all got thoroughly coloured and the guys got well and buzzed on the seriously loaded thandai. The bhang in it caught up with Vicky soon enough, to his bemusement, so he and Shoma's brother slept it off while Nilu, Shoma and Shoma's boudi made lunch (mutton curry and rice, as different from the chicken curry and rice of the night before).

Shoma's boudi taught us a neat totka to help us get all that colour off our bodies: you make a paste of haldi (turmeric), besan (chickpea flour) and milk and smear it on yourself and let it dry. Then you rub it off in circular motions and bathe as usual. Worked really well. If you don't have besan handy you can use atta (wheat flour) as well.

After a late lunch a buzzed Vicky, a nap-refreshed Rahul and an amused I went to visit Li'lpet and her parents. We ended up spending the whole evening with the, watching the kids play and chatting among ourselves. Dinner was some lovely, light homemade pizza by Payal (Li'lpet's mum). Turns out all around us are kids the same age as ours who can write and recite and what not, while our little illiterates barely know the alphabet. OK, to be honest, Rahul doesn't even know that but he is rather fond of saying "E for W" and that's a start innit. I mean, there is a vowel and a consonant right there if you look properly. Anyway, so we felt properly proud of our brats and figured that they'd lose nothing by learning this sort of shit six months later or whenever it is that they do learnt the stuff.

Drove back home late, past 9.30 pm and got a bit psyched by the psychos on the bypass. If you remember, Ally's horn still wasn't working. Got back home, tucked the boys into bed and waited for Dana and Shuki to come over. After they got here, the three of us sat around chatting till 4 am over homemade strawberry ice cream and bhang (If you've never had bhang with ice cream, you should. Beats thandai, in my opinion.) Such a lovely Holi it turned out to be. Especially since Shuki gave Dana and me head massages with hair oil. Awesome stuff and it got a great deal of the colour out of my hair at last.

Of course, to make life even more interesting, the next night (Mon) Shuki and I tried to catch the 11.30 show of Karthik Calling Karthik only to be told once we were parked and inside South City that the show'd been cancelled. So we checked out the 'new' 24 hour place at Chrome called Nosh. Decent coffee. And sat around chatting and drove around chatting and chatted some more sitting in the car in front of her house. I regaled her with horror stories from children's birthday parties and we morosely compared notes on buying flats.

A good weekend. A rough week followed, with all kinds of appliances giving notice and me PMSing or something, basically I was tetchy and a pain to live with. On Thursday night Vicky and I went to dinner at the new Taaja, called Bibi of Taaja's and located at Dhakuria. The paella was good but not exquisite like it used to be. When held up against the raised prices it didn't seem value for money, really, and that's a pity given the proximity to our home. But we had fun the two of us, holding hands and crossing the street. It's been a while since we went out to dinner like that.

I leave you with a photograph of Rahul coming home from school the Friday before Holi. He was most indignant that his "Aaantie" (teacher) had 'dirtied' him.


We are still faintly pink all over but less so than before, thank god.

3 comments:

brundha said...

Such a cute picture. I can't believe this boy is growing so fast. Touch wood. I missed holi this year. miss holi so much.

Sue said...

Brundha -- He is growing unbelievably fast. He seems to grow from the time I kissed him goodbye in the morning to the time he opens the door for me at night.

Come home for Holi next year.

Rohini said...

What? You can't talk about cakes that look like they're on Viagra and not click a pic???!