Tag Archives: restaurant

Expressionless parenting

We were out for dinner last night at a restaurant in the vicinity. My son brought along a book to read. We were like any other family, having bursts of conversation peppered with arguments, and then moments of comfortable silence.

As we waited for our food to arrive, we lapsed into one of those silences. When I caught my husband’s eye, he signalled with his eyes, to someone or something behind me. 

When I turned around to look, it was the cutest little girl (maybe five years old), in a pretty pink frock, who was standing away from the table that her parents sat at, looking so angry and adorably sweet all at once.

She had her arms tightly wrapped around her body. Watching her furrowed eyebrows and pointed stares at her parents, we couldn’t help but smile. The parents ignored her, and got busy with their starters. She stood her ground, our little girl.



Courtesy – iStock

My husband and I walked down memory lane, remembering our kids behaving in a similar fashion, and throwing a tantrum or two. Times when we had also sat stone-faced, trying to teach great lessons to our children by not giving in to their demands.

Children grow up, but some things don’t change. The only difference now is that my kids do not leave the table or strike a pose to convey their displeasure.  Now, we have to contend with silent rebellion and rolling eyes.

As parents, we still sit with expressionless faces!

As for the little girl, the only concession she made was that she had moved closer to the table. Maybe she would reach the table when her hunger finally overpowered her annoyance. 

The humble ‘upma’

South Indian cooking has a very long list of tasty dishes from its four states; dishes that range from spicy to tangy to salty to sweet, and many other flavours.

There are a few dishes that are common to all four states, and one of them is the ‘upma’. It is not served with too much fanfare. In restaurants, on the menu card, the upma  is usually listed far down the menu, after one has run through the exotic dosas, vadas and idli varieties, all of which have pride of place in South Indian cooking. 

The  upma is made from semolina. It can be cooked plain, or made interesting with vegetables and cashewnuts.

Why do I talk about the upma, you may wonder? This is because the upma has not been given its due.

In India, at least when we were growing up, people did not call and inform that they were visiting. They would just show up,  unannounced. It was the norm, and at any time of day or night, friends and family were very welcome.

The moment the guests landed up, the kitchen committee comprising my mom and grandmom would kick into high gear. 

And this is where the upma requires to be treated with respect. 

      Courtesywww.dreamstime.com

It was the easiest dish to make for impromptu visitors. The base ingredient, semolina, also lends itself beautifully to be made into a sweet dish called kesari. 

Courtesy – http://www.shutterstock.com
So, the upma was served along with piping hot, frothy filter coffee. Adults had the upma with pickle, while kids had it with sugar.
The upma usually saved the day. It is one of my favourite dishes, though there were times when my sisters and I would pick out all the vegetables in the upma and hide them under our plates, in total innocence, not realizing that our mom could figure out what we had been upto.

Do you have any such dish like the upma? Would love to know!


Lunch

Wherever I go, I love observing people – especially in airports, railway stations, hotel lobbies, and in-flight. Each of these places is a different ecosystem by itself, where people from different walks of life converge for a certain period of time.

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This afternoon, my husband and I went out for lunch. We went to a popular restaurant in the vicinity.

We placed our order, and waited. My husband was busy on his phone, and I observed the people in the restaurant.

There was this family of three – husband, wife and a one-year old baby. The mom was trying to feed spoonfuls of baby food from a box, while the dad kept the child engaged. The Dad became an elephant, with a trunk and tried to snatch the baby’s food away, then he transformed into a lion and a horse. The baby gurgled and giggled, and finished her food. Each parent took turns to eat, while the other entertained the child. Been there, done it.

There was a man, who reviewed the menu for a good twenty minutes before he placed his order. I was curious to know what he ordered.

Then again, there was this man with his headphones connected and feet tapping, as he relished his lunch.

There was a group of college students, loud and cheerful, enjoying their lunch and friends’ company. Many delicious platters went past us to their table – a few sizzlers and many aromatic ones!

My tongue watered in anticipation. Our order seemed to take forever.  A tray filled with huge glasses of bright green slush went past. I wanted one of those. I wanted one of the sizzling platters too…but we’d already ordered, so I waited patiently.

Finally, our food arrived, and then my stomach and mouth took over, enjoying every mouthful. Different flavours and spices played different notes on my tongue. The food was amazing.

The table with the college students broke out into a birthday song for one of their friends, as candles were lit and wishes exchanged.

Looking out the window, I realized that the skies had opened up. We finished our lunch and settled down for a nice, hot cup of coffee.

A few people left, many arrived. More food, yummy smells. Melodious instrumental music played in the background.

I smiled. Another world, another ecosystem.