Friday, June 24, 2011

Wrong Estimates

In Anpara, the quarter where I am staying with my husband, is fully furnished. There is a kitchen with all necessary equipments except a gas or electric stove to cook food. So I asked my husband if a stove or heater could be arranged, then I could cook because the mess food is not good for us at this age.
So next morning a man came home with a coiled heater and placed it in the kitchen. I smiled. He hung his head and folded his hands and said “Please madam I could not arrange for a hot plate so I am setting a heater here. As soon as I am able to lay my hands on a hot plate, I will replace it.” I said nothing.
Looking at the heater, I remembered my first kitchen at Haridwar. In Abhijit’s E.T. Hostel quarter, he showed me a room and said “This is your kitchen”. There were lots of things already there - a coiled heater, some crockery, beer mugs, empty beer bottles, motorcycle tires & tube, empty tin, pile of news papers, hammer & tools, etc.

I cleaned up the room. I threw out the things which I thought (at that age) were not needed. The coiled heater was the only source of heat to cook food in the kitchen. I love to drink tea. Before marriage I drank cups and cups of tea, but never made a single cup myself. Now I had to make tea. In the morning, after Abhijit left for office, I placed a pan filled with water and milk on the heater. I thought that it would take too much time to boil so I went off for a nap again. Meanwhile, the milk boiled, swelled and overflowed on the heater coil and the heater went off. After Abhijit returned from office, he repaired the heater and only then was I able to drink tea.
Those days we (I and Abhijit) were eating "Chand’s"  tiffin career  food. I will tell you the story of this man in particular some other time. Right now I can tell you that he was the only food provider for the big bunch of bachelors and I was also added to his client list.

Ten to twelve days passed. I felt that I must start cooking. I didn't know the A B C of this subject, yet I felt that I had to start. In the mean time Abhijit arranged a kerosene stove because he was fed up with every day complaint of the coiled heater and cooking gas connection was not easily available those days.
Now I had two major things in my kitchen - a stove and utensils.  Next I needed groceries, so my husband asked me to make a list. I spend the whole day in making the list and whatever I knew or could remember I wrote in that list. In the evening I gave the list to Abhijit. It was too long a list. He asked me “What is this?”  I got an impression that he was not familiar with these things. His ignorance caused my  confidence to grow out of proportions. I said “Groceries list.”  He gave back the list to me and said, “Write down the amount or quantity of the each item.” I asked him “In which unit?” He said “In kilogram because in India we follow the metric system”. I wrote the amount of each item in kilogram. He went out with a large size of canvas bag. When he returned he had three large bags with him.
He placed all the bags in the kitchen. I was happy and immediately started emptying the bags. One bag contained only bay-leaves (tej-patta) and the second bag was also half full with bay leaves. I was confused that what I will do with large volume of bay leaves. The third bag was full of rest of the things of my list.  At that moment Chand came with tiffin boxes in kitchen and was surprised. He exclaimed “Too much bay leaves”. He giggled and went off. I did not understand anything but felt that something was tremendously wrong. I asked my husband “Why did you purchase this volume of bay leaves?”  He said “I purchased whatever you wrote in the list”. I saw the list. I had written: Tej Patta (Bay leaves) -  1.5 kg.

News spread in the township that Mini has purchased 1.5 kg. bay leaves.  Abhijit’s friends gave him sympathy that his future was going to be so pain full with this dumb wife. Ladies laughed and cracked jokes. Days passed and this incident became a tale. Very often my friends talk about my first groceries shopping and have a hearty laugh. This incident has almost become a legend. My Haridwar friends who attended my son’s marriage, narrated this story to the newlyweds (my son and daughter in law). 
The phone started ringing. It was my son is calling. I said “Hello beta….” He said “Good morning Maa….what are you doing?”  I said “Cooking and remembering the good old days.”  He asked “Now you have a kitchen in Anpara?”  I said “Yes… with a coiled heater and new utensils.” He said “And 3kg. bay leaves ……” and laughed. I said “No, I will not repeat my mistakes…”.

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