Life lessons from a dosa


Every person who knows to cook has a special dish that she or he can rustle up, without fretting too much about the end product – call it a signature dish if you like. And when one has people over for lunch or dinner, this signature dish will definitely feature in the menu.

But then, there is another side to this signature dish story. If you hail from South India, like I do, making dosas is something you are expected to know even in your sleep.

Image courtesy – http://www.shutterstock.com

There is nothing to beat a crispy, golden dosa that has been made to perfection, and then eaten with sambar and coconut chutney.

I do make perfect, golden dosas, crisp or soft, with ghee or cheese, or even the masala dosa, with its filling of potato masala. My friends love my dosas too!

But sometimes, especially when you have guests over for lunch or dinner, and your signature dish’s reputation precedes you, things can head south.

I have guests for brunch, and one of the items planned is the dosa. Dosas are best eaten hot. So, I set the flat pan on the stove, switch it on and mix the dosa batter with elan. I check for batter consistency, ensure that I have all that I need to get started. I do not realize this, but my flatpan has got over-heated as the flame is in full blast mode and not in simmer mode – a sure recipe for dosa disaster.

As I pour the batter with practised ease, in just ten seconds I realize that the dosa has stuck to the pan, and refuses to leave it. I use the spatula to prod it out, without making any sound. My guests are waiting in anticipation. I manage to get the mangled and burnt dosa out. Now, both the flatpan and I have to cool down.

I smile at the irony of it all. This dosa that we eat so often, and that my kids are heartily tired of …has let me down, and how!!!

Soon the flatpan cools and I am able to serve my dosas, though I still feel they could have turned out better.

But then, this is how things are in the bigger scheme of things as well. We work and perfect various skills, we plan meticulously to the minutest details, but then life throws many surprises our way, when we are unable to manifest our skills in the best way at the right time and at the right place.

But the idea is to keep trying, and enjoy the journey, and not be bogged down by the odd bad day!

What’s really important?


This afternoon, after a crazily busy month, I finally got some free time. I lazily flipped through the hundreds of TV channels that never seem to stop churning out programs.

I finally decided to watch a movie. The channel I watched was playing a blockbuster Bollywood film from the eighties. And this movie triggered memories about an incident that happened during my childhood.

In the small town, where I grew up, we had a club house that screened movies, every weekend, for its members.

Our slot was on Saturday evenings at 5.30 p.m. The movies screened were usually blockbusters or those that had won critical acclaim. So, Saturday evenings were quite exciting.

On one such Saturday, my sisters and I were on pins to watch the movie being screened, as it had been released just a few weeks ago, and was a huge hit at the box office.

We were ready from 3.30 p.m.,waiting for my parents to finish their chores, and get ready. At around 4.15 p.m., the door bell chimed.

We had visitors. Two of my grandma’s friends had decided to pay grandma, and all of us, a surprise visit.

Those were the days, when social networking was actually done in person! So people just dropped in unannounced, and were welcomed with joy and fanfare.

My grandma was visibly excited. So were my parents.

I also have to tell you that my grandma & mom were life members of the ‘Whoever visits our home will not leave without a heavy meal’ Club.

So, as my grandma caught up with her buddies, the aroma of filter coffee, masala dosa, and rava kesari, wafted in the air.

My sisters and I were really down. The movie….? The clock was merrily ticking away, fast approaching 5 p.m. The club house was a 7 minute walk or a 4 minute run, so there was still some hope.

We were in our room, feeling sorry and worried. At 5.10, we quietly slipped into the kitchen to ask mom if we could leave, as grandma could keep her friends engaged till we came back.

I will never forget what my mom told us. Our ears rang as we slunk back to our room.

She said, “There are some things in life that are very important. Whenever guests come home, they take precedence over everything else. Our priority is to be good hosts and feed them well. This movie that you want to see, will be there forever. When you grow old, or retire, you can sit and watch it anytime. Now, go to your room and play a board game, I will bring something for you to eat.”

That was an important lesson. The simple joys of being with loving friends, and all the camaraderie that goes with it.

At that point in time, my sisters and I moped and sulked; Mom’s lesson totally lost in our sorrow.

But what an important lesson!

We never got to watch that movie after that, but funnily, this is the very same movie that I watched this afternoon, just as my mom predicted – when I had all the time.

A Bride’s Journal


Journal entry #1

The  date for my wedding has been fixed. In two months, I will move to my husband’s house.

Sid is a nice guy, in as much as I could glean from the three meetings we have had.  After all we have known each other only for the last week, five days to be precise.

Am I freaking out? You bet I am.

Journal entry #2

My parents and brother (who has no choice) have had their thoughts programmed to only one word, you guessed right, my wedding. The intensity overwhelms me….my two aunts are visiting us next week. Should I take on an extra project so I can come home late from work? Worth pursuing.

Journal entry #3

Not sure if the term ‘arranged marriage’ talks about the craziness involved in the arrangements. Flowers, catering, shopping for my trousseau, jewelry, invitations, menu choices, make up, hair dos, I am unable to leave the house without my parents thrusting a few samples of ‘this or that’ for me to choose from.

Journal entry #4

Today, Sid called me at work to ask if we could have lunch together.

Was I excited?  Yes, a  bit…hmmmm….actually,  a lot!!!

Journal entry #5

The lunch was good…yeah more than good. He has a great sense of humour. We captured our first selfie. We kinda look nice together. He gave me a chocolate…

Journal entry #6

The craziness at home continues….things seem to get finalized one moment…and new checklists are being made the very next.

Today we went shopping for my trousseau (read my family of four, plus my four aunts and their spouses, my two cousins, a brood of nieces and nephews) plus Sid’s family, his two cousins, three aunts and their spouses.  Thankfully pets were not allowed in the shops.

Observation #1
30 odd people screaming their choices is embarrassing

Observation #2
Getting a reservation for so many people in a restaurant is a challenge at such short notice……

Journal entry #7

The bride, that’s me, is ready with her sarees and jewellery.  Sid & I call each other frequently – the family indulges me….Once we get off the phone we are on chat mode on our phones. We are both doing a crash course on understanding each other after all….

Journal entry #8

Did I tell you that in India it is not only the couple that marries, even the families marry? So I am now being introduced to Sid’s  first cousins, second cousins, great uncles thrice removed, to the aunt who is a great singer, to the aunt who is a style icon and to the uncle who was just two steps away from making it to the Indian cricket team, among others

Sid has also met my great grand mom, my third cousin who happens to be related to Sid’s family, my  first cousins, the three bad boys of our family, the talented singer aunt, the dancing sensation aunt, the rangoli cousin and the chef-in-the-making aunt.

Our families have outdone each other….huge resource pools of talent!!!

Journal entry #9

Sid and I sneak away for a midnight drive and an icecream. ‘Twas wonderful.

5 more days to go…

Journal entry #10

We are married. I get to show off my new dresses at the many family lunches (on both sides) that we are invited to almost every day.

We are on an eating orgy here. I applaud and over eat at his cousins’, he does the same for dinners on my side. We are extravagant in our compliments….everyone is happy.

Journal entry #11

We are back from our magical honeymoon.

Entering the phase called ‘digitally yours’… repeatedly looking at the wedding albums, uploading videos and pics & enjoying all the gifts.

Journal entry #12

The calm is restored…it is just the two of us now…starting our life together, bit by bit. Planning the move to our own apartment

Fully focused on transforming the apartment into ‘home’.

Journal entry #13

We had our first guests over for dinner. Received two invites in return. Our social life starts….

Journal entry #14

We had our first argument….I was right, of course…!  We are well & truly married.