Tag Archives: Mother

The Choco-Coffee from Lillian to Her Mother

The Choco-Coffee from Lillian to Her Mother

I am currently reading The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. I am a voracious reader and a foodie. When a book caters to both the senses, how can I not fall in love with it? At the point where I am reading now, Lillian has prepared a drink for her mother who has her head stuck in a book all the time to escape the reality. The girl just wants to bring her mother back to being herself and prepares delicacies to entice her. In one such attempt, Lillian prepares a drink and I thought why not I try this on my own because the recipe looked simple enough and I am no Julia Child. But Lillian is someone who doesn’t follow any recipe and goes by instinct. So, let me tell you how my little culinary adventure turned out.

Given below (sounds so academic) is the comparison of what Lillian did and what I tried.

Lillian’s Recipe (You can’t actually call this a recipe)

My Deed

Put milk in a saucepan. Use real milk, the thick kind. Half a litre of Goodlife milk by Nandini poured into a saucepan.
Make orange curls. Set aside. I don’t know how to get curls of orange peel! So I grated the outer peel carefully avoiding the inner white layer. White layer gives bitter taste.
Break the cinnamon in half. About 2-3g of cinnamon stick.
Add orange peel and cinnamon to milk. Added to the milk in the saucepan.
Grate the chocolate Grated about 18-20g of plain Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate into the milk.
Add anise. Just a touch. Added about 1g of anise powder into the milk.
Let it simmer until it all comes together. You will know when it does. Yes, let it simmer. When all the chocolate melts and you get a faint aroma of spices, that is when you know it is done. By then, the milk would have reduced to half of the original quantity.
Use your wand (what she means by wand is a spatula). I used a spoon. Keep stirring otherwise a layer of cream/fat forms on the surface spoiling the taste.
Now add that to your coffee. I added about 5-6g of Bru instant coffee mix to the milk and filtered it to remove cinnamon piece and orange peels.
Top with whipping cream for softness. Fresh cream from Milky Mist helped. I added 50g of the whipped cream to each of the two mugs.
Serve. One mug for myself and another for my mother.

I have to mention here, Lillian did not filter the contents to separate the cinnamon stick and orange peel. She used a spoon to hold them back as she poured her preparation into mugs. I just made my work easy. Also, Lillian’s coffee was already prepared. Considering it had sugar in it, sugar for my choco-coffee came from the Dairy Milk chocolate.

About the drink, it turned out to be yummy. I am not a fan of coffee or tea, but this tasted good. If you don’t trust me, then ask my mom. On some days, she survives on coffee when I pester her a lot.  I don’t know what this is called. Lillian hasn’t named it in the novel. I will just call it choco-coffee. Simple enough for a person who is not much into the world of coffee. If you don’t add cream and whip the drink itself, I guess it turns into a cappuccino. People who drink it regularly would know better. Do let me know if both are same. And the picture doesn’t show pretty patterns on the drink. Bear with it.

The Choco-Coffee from Lillian to Her Mother

The Choco-Coffee from Lillian to Her Mother

Wallet

Wallet

“Watch?”
“Check.”
“Handkerchief?”
“Check.”
“Car keys?”
“Check.”
“Mobile phone?”
“Wallet?”
“Check.”
This is my mother’s checklist and my father’s response every time he steps out of the house. Though my logic says she can ask only for the wallet and he can buy rest of the things using the money in his wallet, she repeats her list. Of course, he cannot buy a car every time he feels like driving one when leaves his at home. It’s good to watch them go about this daily ritual. Sometimes my father doesn’t even say “check.” He simply grunts and my mother still goes on. It is not like my father will forget any of those things if my mother doesn’t remind him. It is just the display of concoction brewed with love, care, and intimacy that sometimes appears to be cute.

My mother sometimes forgets reminding one or two of the list, but never the wallet. Theirs being the earlier generation that wasn’t dependent on the mobile phone, it was never a priority but has slowly crept in. The wallet is always reminded because it has money. Money can allow you to make calls from the nearby PCO telephone, which became extinct and my mother ignores that fact. Money can get you from one place to other thanks to public transport and my mother loves them. To my parents, the wallet is a something that can hold money from which we can pull out a few bank notes or clink few coins to pay for anything. This leaves me wondering what would happen to this intimacy when we replace our wallets with apps like Paytm. This app and likes of it are closing in on all possible kinds of services for which money can pay. I recently saw a grocery store that accepts payment through Paytm. Such apps make it easy to carry out transactions without withdrawing cash and fewer chances of a pickpocket. But the lack of physical touch gives a sense of insecurity. The apps cannot replace the different colours of bank notes, the cold mint coins, the leather or a cloth and the worn-out folds and corners of the wallets, even if they assure the safety of our money.

Technology though is trying to help bring people closer, is driving them far from each other. People talk to each other for hours together at their convenience from the comforts of their homes, but don’t know how to even say hi when they meet. I never knew meeting in person had such allergic reactions. If the advent of apps had happened long back, I guess my mother would have asked my father “Installed all necessary apps?” instead of her list. This way, it would have been more than enough if he carried a mobile phone loaded with a variety of apps and she doesn’t have to worry as they won’t uninstall themselves. The intimacy of the wallet which my father used to buy ice creams for my mother on their trip to Manali three decades ago that they still reminisce, would have never happened. She would have even helped my grandfather book a priest for the wedding through an app. The wallet would have become a Dodo.

Image source: The Brooks Review

Shwetha H S

Conversationalists and Me

“Do you watch Game of Thrones?”

“No.”

“What do you with your free time then?”

“I read books.”

“Then you must have read the book version of Game of Thrones?”

“No.”

Perplexed conversationalist asks, “But why?”

I put down my book and say, “I am waiting for George R R Martin to die so that he stops writing any more books in the series. Then, I will start reading them all back-to-back in peace.”

Conversationalist, now petrified, leaves me to my book.

This conversation has happened over and over, but each time with a different person, because it is difficult to have a conversation with me since I don’t watch TV series, I don’t read anything mainstream and I haven’t watched any movies lately. People need to understand that I am reading a book doesn’t mean I am in want of a company. I am already in a good company; it is just a matter of perspective.

People ask me how I came to love books so much. I would thank my mom for that and all those conversationalists would blame her. I think it started with her getting the library cards to get access to the books in the mobile library bus used to come to our locality every Wednesday, way back when I was in second or third grade. Back in my school days, State Central Library of Karnataka used to run mobile library services too, that had blue coloured buses carry books to each locality and serve their purpose. My mother was a voracious reader herself (though now she has fallen prey to soap operas) and the maximum number of library cards per person i.e. three cards and one book per card, were not enough for her. So, she got three cards in my name too. She used my three cards too to get books for her while I was busy with my school assignments. But my summer holidays were a curse to her. It so happened that I accompanied her to the mobile library. Unfortunately for my mother, I found Richie Rich comics. I grabbed one and waved it at my mother. She, being a good woman, didn’t know that I would one day ask for my cards back. And that day came too soon, like next week. I started with comics like Orson’s Farm, Archie and Friends, Richie Rich and Garfield, and slowly moved to Famous Five series, Princess Diaries series, Malory Towers series and Nancy Drew series. Yes, series. Series that people had started writing and finished, and probably dead already not to write anymore. There was no wait to read the next book. They all were there. My mom was back to her three books, thanks to me. Week after week, I went to get new books, practically old ones, from the mobile library, even if my mom didn’t come along. Then, the summer holidays ended. By the time I finished reading all the series and stand alone books that I could understand in the mobile library, four years had passed. Eventually we moved to a different locality and there were no mobile libraries visiting us. Unable to tolerate my nagging, my father got me a set of “Easy to Read English Classics” that contained Robinson Crusoe, Tom Sawyer, The Invisible Man, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Volume 1 of My Experiments With Truth and five more books, all for Rs.100! One of my cousins lost my first copy of Robinson Crusoe and I still hate him for that. I once found a copy of The Hound of Baskervilles in my school library, but stupid people would lend it only for a day. I was lazy to get it reissued every day, so didn’t bother.

Years passed. My brother grew up and I refused to. One day, say about 10 years ago, we were at the airport when he got up from where our family was seated and roamed around talking over the cell phone to his then girlfriend and now wife. I dogged him wherever he went. He, by mistake went into a bookstore and I gratefully followed. Unable to dodge me anymore, he bought me the first volume of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. That’s it! It was like I was hit in the head again. Once I finished reading it, of course not then and there because it took me few weeks, I spent next few months looking for volume two. Back then, Amazon and Flipkart were not in scene yet, and I had to look inside brick and mortar shops. I finally found a copy of the volume two in Bangalore Book Fair which was, and still is, an annual event. I was ecstatic! I don’t remember how many times I have read those two volumes; I simply have lost the count. And then came along Pride and Prejudice. The love of my life. By then I had read too many classics, I even survived Wuthering Heights. But Pride and Prejudice…there is something about it, not only just Fitzwilliam Darcy. The way Jane Austen writes, they way she tells you something about life through each character without you knowing that you are completely agreeing with her, well she is the woman and I admire and worship her. I have obviously read many more after reading Jane Austen’s works, but she will always remain on the pedestal. Of course, conversationalists don’t even recognise Pride and Prejudice, even after it being made into a movie so many times for heaven’s sake! I understand the plight of the conversationalists, but I can’t help it.

In Someone Else’s Shoes

I got down from the bus midway on my way back home from work. Crossing the busy street by dodging the bustling vehicles, I walked to a chaatwala whom I used to frequent and had not been there from past few months. I placed my order for one plate of Dahi Puri. He looked up and asked “Two plates?” I reaffirmed that my order is only one plate of Dahi Puri. The look he gave me raised my mind’s eyebrows but I kept an expressionless face. I always went there with my mother and we always first ordered one plate of Dahi Puri and then one plate of Masala Puri for each of us, with more green chilly chutney and less sweet chutney. His look meant that my good mother must have passed away, and that’s why both of us had not turned up at his stall for months together and that’s why I had come alone now. Little he knew that my mother watched reality shows back home and PMSed big time. Random people around me placing their chaat orders thought I had nobody in this world and had sobbed a lot before coming out of my home to eat alone. I was actually slightly disturbed by what happened at work. So, instead of going home straight, I went to have chaats to help my brain release endorphins. You see, I am one of those people who find calmness in busy public places like when I am alone staring at the dark curtains in my room. This state I dwell in can be perfectly represented as a mutually inclusive event by using a Venn diagram.

Many of my friends exclaimed “Winter is Coming” when the lamest of the winters started in Bangalore. Winter, along with workload, increases my appetite and I end up having five meals a day instead of the usual three. The same happened this time too. A colleague of mine was transferred from Marketing department to Dispatch department a few months back. He helps me to not gain weight. Here’s how. When I leave from work and walk to the bus stop, I get a bakery on the way. When I am hungry, I just want to eat a lot of carbohydrates and this bakery beckons me to buy potato chips. From the time this colleague got transferred to the plant from the corporate office, he offers to drop me midway home. He takes a deviation avoiding the bakery, and that’s how I am eating less junk food. He is a good man at heart; has a teacher for a wife and a son in 7th grade who also takes Tabla lessons as well as Vedas lessons. He is so good he doesn’t even know how to scold a person and express anger while quarrelling with someone. If you see him scolding anyone, you will end up laughing. But it isn’t enough if you are a good person in this world, is it? This person is not very intelligent in worldly ways and is not a quick learner; needs easy work, but is not lazy. He cannot take much “load.” So, since this person came here, reworks and delays in dispatch of orders have become common. Our plant manager used to be mighty pissed at him, but later changed her approach and tried to explain the situation to him. I once heard her telling him “Everybody at the corporate office thinks you cannot do anything right. Managing Director just dismisses anything by hearing your name. Don’t you think you should put efforts to prove them wrong? Everybody has a way of doing things, so you choose a better one and work on it. I will certainly help you, but helping you should not burden me by keeping me from fulfilling my own duties as a plant manager. I should not literally do your job and keep mine pending.”

One of the product categories of our company is micronutrient premixes. They cost a lot for a kilogram. If I steal a few kilograms of any of these products and sell them in the black market, then I can buy a lavish penthouse and live my happily-ever-after. We got an order for one such product on a priority basis and all the workers slogged overtime to complete this order. But this good person did not check his emails properly and missed the invoice for this consignment. Thinking the invoice has not yet come from the Accounts department, he did not call in the logistics to take the consignment. When the news reached the corporate office that this priority consignment was not dispatched even after working overtime, hell broke loose and plant manager took him to task. My other colleagues were ready to escalate other issues along with this one and get rid of him. After a heated exchange of words and considerably calming down, she came to me and said “We can’t keep warning him every time he pulls a blooper and help him… If we let him go, his family will suffer. They are not financially stable. That is the reason he was sent from Marketing to Dispatch, only because the company did not want to fire him.” She got lost in her own thoughts and went back into her cabin. But her words aroused my argumentative trait of a blank mind. Should we help an employee at the cost of company’s reputation? Or should we let him or her be even though we know he or she is not well to do? The morals and ethics clashed like the titans and the reverberation cut off when he asked me if I would leave along with him or later. We had again worked for two extra hours and he had to go 30km to reach home. I numbly picked up my bag and left with him. All the way, he grumbled and mumbled about the day’s happenings and I lent a listening ear, with occasional words to fill in the awkward silence resulting from his pauses. My appetite plunged. I am not exactly found with appropriate moods or behaviour as per the circumstances, but I felt bad for him. Dahi Puri and Masala Puri didn’t work their magic this time around. That’s why I ended up writing this blog today. Winter shall end soon.