As I drove back from Fabindia this evening I suddenly remembered my first ‘house’ at Mumbai.
I was a P G or a paying guest there. A uniquely Mumbai phenomenon. I remembered the dining table which was kept at the entrance. Where we would crib about vegetarian food and hungrily gulp down the hot rotis ballooning down from the kitchen. Where my PG aunty ensured that there would be food for me no matter how late I came back. No matter how tired I was from work. No matter how heartbroken I was. And ensure that my favourites of rice, dal and potato in besan bhajiyas were there on Saturdays. Where I would often berate her and her late husband for stretching out and putting their feet up on their own table. That’s how at home I felt there.
We never had dining tables after that. Coffee tables which would double up as dining tables in space starved Bandra in Mumbai. And as we rented a larger place, our table became even smaller. I went through old photo albums to source some pictures. Soon Kainaz and I were lost in memories. There is something magical about printed photos and musty photo albums which is not there in today’s world of Jpeg and photo uploads. A rush of events floated by. Images bounced out which we tried to catch like little children blowing bubbles in the air. We were awed at how young we looked. “You look so young and thin,” she squealed. We were amazed at how much hair I had. And she screeched in joy at, er, how much weight she has lost since. We looked at photos of family members who looked so much younger. And at some who have left us.
There was the cane coffee table from the cane furniture set which we had made for our first rented house in Khar. The house where K and I began our lives together The thrill of moving into it. Of a place to call our own. Of trying desperately to fit in our family when they came to visit us. The hall cum dining room was really small and the fridge which could only fit in over there. This was the house where we begun to cook. Starting with Parampara ready mixes to Internet downloads, calls to mom and Didu and soon discovering a cooking Mojo where recipe books were dispelled. Machher matha diye daal, pasta, sauteed vegetables, chicken curry, green chicken curry when the food became monotonous, hakka noodles and the initial botched attempts at it, chocolate souffle and egg less cakes, my only attempts at desserts. Special occasions when I would cook at home as we were left with no money to go out to eat. Doi Maach, chicken rezala, do piyaza, koolfi, ras malai and brownies entered the house as K would bring home recipes printed in blue stationery paper and cook from them.
Then our own house at Bandra. And the largish coffee table that uncle left behind. More dishes. More experiments. A larger living room. Our first non family house guests. The table where I begun to blog. Where Banu made her entry with the rotis she would make.
The quest for space made us a a rent a larger place up the road at Bandra. For the first time in our married life we could move around without bumping into each other. I became more of a weekend as cook Banu did the bulk of our cooking. This is the house where we could do something that I would want to do for ages. Have people over. Many an afternoon and night would be spend with friends over laughter, high spirited chatter and kosha mangsho. Ironically, our hunger for space made us go for an even smaller ‘dining table’. We left our large coffee table behind and used our landlord’s zebra drum converted into a table. A one seater at most if really stretched.
Months of whining, moaning and cribbing, “a food blogger should have a table”, “I can’t keep the plate on the table and have breakfast if I am reading the newspaper”, “I can’t come home and check mails on the laptop over coffee as the cup and the comp don’t fit”. “But how will you watch TV if you sit at a dining table?” “Is this anyway for civilised people to eat?”
Passive aggression she calls it. But it worked eventually and after many trips and expeditions K got me a ‘dining’ table. Well actually Fabindia calls it a ‘Bistro’ table. It’s a two seater which I am sure will seat many. Looked as if it was made just for us.
Only those who live in space starved Bandra in over crowded Mumbai can relate to the joy and pride we felt as we looked at this little table snuggled in our drawing room.
Now its time to fill it up with food and memories.