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To cook, or not to cook? Not to cook!

         Memories can be mystifying. You are busy doing your chores, sorting out stuff and suddenly,  out of nowhere, an old memory pops out like a Jack-in-the-box. It startles you with its suddenness and leaves you wondering, "Hey, where did that come from?"   The memory that comes knocking may not even be associated with your present scenario. But, it does leave you mesmerised by its vividness and the emotions attached to it.

     Last night, as I stood by the gas stove preparing dinner, an old incident flashed before my eyes, out of the blue. To be precise, it was an amusing incident that took place 15 years ago in my kitchen, during the days preceding my SIL's wedding ceremony. The house was full of guests - full of in-laws, mind you; a huge army that had descended upon us for the very first time since after I entered  my matrimonial home. So, the pressure on me to be at my best was tremendous.

   You know how the elderly women of the family watch the DIL and her  every movement and behaviour,  don't you? There's this attention to detail.  It makes you feel like you are some sort of bacterium being observed under a microscope! You mingle freely with one and all, and you get labelled as 'affable'; you laugh unabashedly at inane jokes cracked by the youngsters, you get labelled as 'jovial' , and these kind of good labels assure you that you are now a part of their family. That's all fine.  However, it's your performance in the kitchen  that is scrutinised and weighed carefully before you are conferred with the title of 'The Perfect Daughter-in-law'!
 It's a title every daughter-in-law secretly pines for -  she may never admit to it, but she surely does!

  So, there I was, impressing everyone with my good-girl conduct and receiving pats on my back for being so caring towards my ma-in-law and sis-in-law and all. I was literally sailing on my own little cloud! Ah, but, little did I know that as dinner time neared, and I made my way into the kitchen, I would be followed in there and my cooking skills evaluated before categorising me as good or satisfactory.
 Ahem, I did not mention, I am really not a great cook. And, back then, I was just passable. In fact, i disliked cooking, altogether! And, the family boasts of accomplished culinary experts. So, in short, I was  David,  facing an army  of Goliaths.

   So, there I stood in front of the stove, lost in thoughts, ready to cook lentils. Suddenly, I heard a voice over my shoulder, "The quantity of oil is perfect!"  The voice jolted me out of my thoughts and I turned around to look into the eyes of MIL's elder sister. I froze as I turned further  only  to see the smiling faces of MIL's two sisters-in-law! Each of the three women a fabulous cook in her own right. And, I - well, the less said the better.

  I turned to face the pan on the stove. All of a sudden I had begun to palpitate. My breathing had almost stopped and my hands had begun to tremble, albeit invisibly. Phew! I hadn't even realised they had entered the kitchen! Anyway, I added the cumin seeds and then the chopped onion and began to saute it, all the while wondering what the experts might say next, and praying for divine intervention! As I added the garam masala and the different spices, they hmm-ed and ah-ed..
"Ah, is that what you do?'
"Hmm, that's the perfect way of mixing it."
"Ohhh, you add the masala after the...!"
"Ah, it sure smells good! No?"

    They took turns in giving a running commentary of the action that was unfolding before their eyes; asking this or exclaiming that. At one point, when I had to grab the salt container from the other end of the platform, I turned around and found myself imprisoned in this cage they had created with their bodies. That was the moment I learnt what it is to feel claustrophobic. I gulped nervously, and requested them to move aside so I could get the salt. They moved aside to give way and as soon as I returned to stand in front of the stove, moved back to their original spots. I imagined a huge wrought iron gate opening to let me out for  some air, and instantly closing the moment I was back in, where I belonged!

  I can't remember how I  finished cooking without moving an inch out of my restricted area.  I fail to recollect how I disengaged myself from amid the cluster of the three seniors. I also find it difficult to recall their remarks about my cooking. I am hoping I faired well. I may have been a bad cook, but I was not that bad!

   Today, however, I have bettered my culinary skills. Mr. Bossy Pants can vouch for it - he being the self-proclaimed connoisseur!  But, the fact remains that I dislike cooking even today. I dislike stepping into that area called kitchen. I do love baking, though. Not that I am a proficient baker. I just bake cakes that are easy-to-make. But, the entire procedure and the aroma that wafts out from the oven as the cake gets baked, and the...umm! Oh, I digress.
 
    As I was saying, I could clean the entire house at one go! I could even happily spend an hour doing the dishes! But, cook?  Well, I do cook, provided I am in the mood! You see, I am an artist, and artists are moody souls!  That's the excuse I give whenever I am accused of being too lazy to cook! My kinda cooking is: enter the kitchen, do what you gotta do and exit within 15 minutes. And, stay away from any complicated, never-ending recipes.  It does help that Mr. BP is a fantastic cook himself.  A little bit of drama is all that's needed to get him come rushing into the kitchen and me out of it! ;P
 Ah, but, that's not an everyday story, mind you!

  See, the memory that popped out of nowhere last night gave me this blogpost today! It gave me a few moments of nostalgia and a feeling of joy. For, I may not be the favourite cook in the family, but, I am definitely the favourite daughter-in-law! I keep hearing it, often. Oh, come on, what's the harm in indulging in some boastfulness once in a while?! 😜


Do you enjoy cooking? I know, many of you do! But, I would be gladder if you said you didn't! Hehe!

With Love

SHILPA...😆😆😆


         

Comments

  1. I think you know the answer to that question. But l hate cleaning up. So there we are even. But you know it's not as if l enjoy cooking 4 times a day or don't take shortcuts or don't like someone else cooking. But l love to experiment and try out new recipes. Yes, l enjoy cooking. 😊 Your experience was hilarious. I would be mortified when subjected to such scrutiny. Not any more but in the earlier days. Luckily for me my mil was very nice and not an interested cook at all. She paused everything l made. 😊

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rachna....do you remember how I had offered cleaning services and you - a tasty meal, when I come visiting ? :P
      You were lucky, for sure! No one looking over your shoulder to see how you flipped the omelette or which spices you added! What peace in the kitchen! ;P
      You know how much I love some of your recipes, don't you? <3

      Delete
  2. Its the story of my life Shilpa. And I can boast of what you are boasting about too.. I hate to cook and will wriggle out of it any way I can. It was fun to read.

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    Replies
    1. Haha! Funny how most women hate cooking! Maybe that's because it's an everyday chore and not a rare indulgence for us!
      Thank you for visiting, Ls! <3

      Delete
  3. I like how you described yourself vis a vis cooking - an artist. To answer your question - I am artist too. I would like to cook only when inspiration strikes - which isn't too frequently. I do have a few dishes (which I can count on my fingers) that I cook well and I stick to those at all times. Mercifully I was never put in a spot by the in-laws. And believe it or not I never aspired to be the perfect DIL.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yo, fellow-moody-artist! <3
      I, too, have a few specific dishes I am good at and which I stick to. There are also times when inspiration strikes and I am game for trying out something new, but, only sometimes.
      It's good that you are so chilled out, Tulika! There are some ladies who work extra hard for that coveted title! ;P

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  4. Shilpa that's a beautiful narration of events and it reminded me also the first time I cooked in my inlaws place..it was just a khichdi but I know how scared I was :)

    Swati

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    Replies
    1. Oh, Swati, that must have been a terrifying ordeal, cooking for the first time for the in-laws!
      How eagerly they await the dish and how they heap you with their comments, no?
      Thank you for visiting, Swati! :)

      Delete
  5. Loved this memory your shared! I'm in the same boat as you - I'm not too fond of cooking. I will occasionally make a pasta or some other one pot dish and everyone will go ga-ga over it, but I don't willingly cook everyday. ;)

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    Replies
    1. MG, which woman likes cooking on an everyday basis? Maybe 3 out of 10. It's a mundane chore for us...so dull and boring, that we would rather survive on love and fresh air, than cook roti-sabji! ;P
      I, too, prefer making pasta, soups or mashed potatoes most of the time. Preparing roti-sabji is a daunting task! ;P

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  6. Ha ha!that was a fun post. You know I don't enjoy cooking. I enjoy eating. I can't even bake :P There are three good people in my life -
    1. Mum who cooks well and cos I was such a mess creater, never sought any help or taught me her recipes.
    2. Mum-in-law who is even better and never expected me to show my culinary skills. She is happy with my chai. Nothing more and nothing less. When we go to VT's place, she handles the cooking and I serve.
    3. My help in Bangalore. Even new recipes that I learn at various blogs, she tries. I only delegate.
    So imagine if I were you what would have happened to that dal :P
    Fun post and how much I enjoyed reading it :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Parul, you, too?! Out of the above 7 visitors, 5 are not fond of cooking...6, including yours truly. So, that means most women dislike cooking, except when in the mood and except for some chosen recipes, we would rather read a book than cook!
      You are lucky to have your mum, MIL and your help at home who prepare all that you like, and all that you have to do is enjoy it! <3
      Thank you for visiting, dear! <3

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  7. Oh, you sound so much like me. I don't like to cook either although I've also become a decent cook over the years. And, I cannot cook if someone else stands beside me. I simply cannot. I lose composure and fumble with the recipe. Hats off to you for managing to impress not one but three mother-in-laws :-D

    Lovely post, Shilpa. Enjoyed reading :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Join the club, Uma! ;P
      I really wonder why some people do that - standing by and watching others cook!? Don't they know how nervous they make us? ;P
      Thank you for visiting, Uma! <3

      Delete
  8. Cooking everyday is a little bit of irritation.But I don't mind cooking occasionally.
    Hate us a strong word .It's more like a paCT. Making my hubby and daughter happy makes me happy. That's why the kitchen visits continue. I love baking too.:)

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    Replies
    1. Yes, Amrita. We have to cook everyday and that is the reason we find it bothersome. If we had to do once in a while, I am sure we would have enjoyed every moment of it!
      And, you are so right. Our cooking keeps our family happy and so we have to keep visiting our kitchens, even if we would rather do something else! ;P
      Thank you for the visit, Amrita! :)

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  9. hehe... I didn't have a choice. Learned cooking the hard way since there wasnt anyone to cook for me over the last decade but now I am pretty decent at it... of course, I am the judge of my cooking so take my reviews with a pinch of salt :)
    Godyears.net

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