August 30, 2015

Hunger in the times of TinyOwl

If thre is one trouble maker member in my whole extended family, it has to be my aunt Kanchan who we fondly call 'K Maasi'. I would not be exaggerating if I had to say she possessed the ‘Bambiligan’ gene .For those who haven’t got the gist of that concocted gene, it is a term that I have coined for K Maasi who possesses the innocence of doe-eyed Bambi and the notoriety of a bunch of hooligans, put together.
It is tough to say whether the havoc K Maasi wreaks is intentional or not. But trouble does follow her like a domesticated animal follows its master, rarely causing any distress to him/her but always managing to unnerve a poor unsuspecting victim in the process….in this case, mostly ME!

I can enumerate a million incidents (ranging from her bringing up unexpected matrimonial alliances to her talking nineteen-to-a-dozen which always leads her into saying what is not needed) when good old ‘Bambiligan’ K Maasi has pulled the carpet below my feet springing up the weirdest of surprises that I can never be prepared for. It is this trait of hers that has earned her the status of ‘Aunt Agatha’ (of Wooster fame) in the family thereby invariably making me head for the hills on announcement of her arrival. But like K Maasi light-heartedly says, “You can run but you cannot hide.” As for me, I can hardly ever run far enough.

The most recent incident that left a stamp ink memory happened around three months ago when  K Maasi decided to pay us a visit. My dad’s colleague along with his family had been invited over for a formal dinner at my home that evening. My mother and me were busy putting together a small spread when Maasi waltzed in and insisted on helping with it.
Knowing K Maasi's kitchen prowess, I stifled a tiny scream of protest. However, not wanting to offend her in any way, my mother reluctantly agreed.

“You go ahead and freshen up. I will take care of everything,” she instructed my mom with a gentle dismissal. Somehow the latter half of that statement caused more dread than relief in my heart which had suddenly turned tachycardic.

“Err...Are you sure, Ma?” I asked.
“Don’t worry beta. Kanchan will manage fine.”
My mother was showing a lot of faith in her sister’s culinary abilities today.  Later she told me the secret behind the sudden confidence---Almost everything was ready. The table just had to be laid. There was no scope for any kind of confusion. K Maasi was only too pleased to help and my mom had allowed her to feel important.

I was alone with Maasi in the kitchen now. She began to draw the lids from the various preparations and inhale the aroma wafting in the air above them with an air of urgency I couldn't really fathom.. I was all ready to accept a few compliments for the wonderful culinary extravaganza I had contributed to help making, when POOF! My bubble burst. K Maasi was wiggling her nose in distaste, her forehead showing vertical creases of disappointment.

“Err…is anything wrong, Maasi?” I asked.

“Shhh…” she silenced me. “Let me concentrate." 
Then biting the right corner of her lower lip, she exclaimed with a toss of her head, ”Salt! A little more salt in this!”

“But Maasi, shouldn’t we be tasting it first?” I suggested.

“I have been cooking for 25 years, darling. I’d know these dishes to perfection by their very aroma from miles away.” Then as if to appease me, she dipped in a spoon and tasted the ever so delectable Palak Paneer that my mom had cooked to perfection.
“There!! Didn’t I tell you? Go get the salt now,” she announced. I suspected the hot gravy had not even reached her taste buds yet.

Reluctantly I handed her the salt dispenser. I knew there was no hope now. K Maasi  was on an ego trip. She wanted to contribute and contribute she would. She proceeded to alter each and every dish with what she thought just a dash of pepper, a tinge of extra salt, a spoonful of sugar, a squeeze of a lemon and so on. I watched in horror but her confidence and enthusiasm could make a sous chef doubt his abilities. 

“Lets flambĂ© the caramel custard,” she rubbed her hands with scary enthusiasm..

“Noooooo,” I almost screamed.

It was just then that the door bell rang. K Maasi gave me a dejected look and went to answer it.

When mom entered the kitchen, there was hardly any time to tell her what had happened and explaining would have unsettled her. Besides I knew the trouble maker had only meant well. She always did. The guests would arrive any minute now.

I prayed to God for some miraculous intervention…something that would prove K Maasi to be a far better cook than we thought she was. Perhaps she had finally improved after all those culinary misfortunes we had been privy to in her past. Perhaps her husband was only joking when he had once narrated how even their neighbor’s hungry dog had refused to eat the food K Maasi cooked. Perhaps the guests would not notice the extra salt, pepper, sugar and whatever else she had kept adding.
Just then my dad entered the kitchen. He was looking rather glum. K Maasi scurried in right behind him.

“I’m sorry dear,” he said to my mom. “The Kumar’s had to cancel. Something unexpected came up and they had to leave for their hometown.”

I could not believe my ears. I almost jumped with joy. God had answered my prayers after all. That had been a narrow escape.

“Ohh. I was so looking forward to their visit,” said my mom dejectedly. Then glancing towards the kitchen, she continued with a crest fallen face, "Now all this food will go waste.”

I was still grinning ear to ear. The trouble maker was observing me beam with joy.

“What’s making you so happy?” she frowned. “We put in so much effort.”
Bambi's innocent face flashed before my eyes again. I went up to K Maasi and gave her a huge hug.
“Nobody’s effort has gone wasted. I am going to eat….eat it all,” I said with a mix of relief and regret in my voice...the former because we were saved from the humiliation in front of the Kumar's and the latter because I had impulsively promised to eat K Maasi's kitchen disaster.

“Too bad that the Kumars won't get to eat such scrumptious food,” chimed in Maasi only too happy to receive the hug from me. It was easy to tell that she had mistaken my relief for appreciation..

The trouble maker was clueless this time, clueless of what a mess she had whipped up…………..well, at least until dinner was served, and even though none of us could swallow even a bite of the food she had improvised, the memory of this incident leaves us in splits even today. We call it the 'luck by chance' event much to K Maasi's red face. The guests hadn't turned up and we had been saved the embarrassment. However, it was rather late and we were too tired to step out for dinner. As we scourged through the menu's of various restaurants for home delivery, we realized how frustrating it can get to get a simple meal delivered to your doorstep. After an endless call waiting and a couple of disconnections we finally managed to get our call through only to be told that the delivery could take some time due to lack of staff. The dinner finally landed up on our table an hour late by which time we were starving, half asleep, and ready to eat anything...all except K Aunty who on sniffing the food placed before her insisted that it required a dash of salt, a tinge of pepper, and a little modification that her 25 years of experience could take care of.

As I now recall the food fix that day, I wonder what a humiliating scene it would have created had the Kumars landed up for dinner. I did not have any plan B then, what was I thinking? But I believe in working on my flaws. I have now worked out a plan B for such 'kitchen crisis' management and sticky situations in the future---a pantry stocked with snacks and #TinyOwlApp on my phone.
From dosas to donuts, from pastas to parathas, from biryani to baingan bharta, Installing the TinyOwl App on your phone will make sure your choice of meal arrives at your door step. It makes the entire process of ordering food time conserving,  convenient and fun. All you need to do is tap (the App) and choose (from the options it provides). It is as easy as ordering a butler around, and guess what? This butler comes for free.
So the next time K Maasi experiments in the kitchen, I am going to sit back and just tap on an expert app with a minimal interface and order in from the city's best restaurants in and around the city.

In addition, TinyOwl allows both cash and card payments and also saves all your previous orders and addresses so that you don't have to type it every single time. It takes the entire responsibility of confirming your order with the restaurant and notifying you of the estimated delivery time. To sum up, this handy app reduces a lot of stress from your shoulders, especially in times of emergencies like K Maasi's cooking escapades or an unexpected visit from your friends on days you are just too bored to enter the kitchen or just too tired to step out. No more panic attacks. No more having to wait until you get connected to the restaurant, no more address mix-up's because the manager on the other end of the call is stone deaf, no more dialing numbers in the hope of getting through a busy line---now who wouldn't want a simple, easy to use, and most importantly, free-of-charge food ordering app that does all the irritating work for you?

So download now. Here are the Android and IOS links.You are now just a tap away from a scrumptious feast from your favorite restaurant.

Bring it on, K Maasi. I am fully armed for your next visit!

This post has been written for the 'Food tales with TinyOwl' contest conducted by TinyOwl and Indiblogger
If you are an Indivine user and like what you read, you can vote for me here 


Gauri said...

That was one situation avoided, thanks to luck! Wonder if your K Maasi visit and cook/experiment again?

Good luck for the contest!

Pri said...

@ gkam
it's a 'You can run, but you can't hide' situation. She's pretty incorrigible, you know :-|
Thanks for dropping by my space.

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Thanks for sharing it.
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