My first trip to the much talked about Silicon Valley – Cupertino, United States was turning out to be very different from what I had imagined (based on the FAB ENGLISH movies I had seen). After a stuttering start with “Here to Go” (Read my other blog at https://arindamunplugged.wordpress.com/2011/09/23/here-to-go/), Rohit and I moved into an apartment within a week – 1 BHK un-furnished apartment which came at a whopping USD 1120 per month rent.
“There goes my savings” – I thought. We decided that we must get one more person into our flat QUICKLY to share the exorbitant living expenses.
We were soon faced with our next problem – COOKING!!! During my stay in Mumbai before traveling to US, I had happily lived on office lunch / dinner, or ordered in from the Chinese restaurant downstairs. My BONG room mates had been kind – leaving me out of the kitchen in the weekends when we did decide to cook some – “MAACHER JHOL AND BHAATH” (Fish Curry and Rice) or “MANGSHOR JHOL AND BHATH” (Chicken Curry and Rice)…..
Thankfully, God was kind, and a new person joined us within couple of days of us moving in – Sridhar.
Sridhar was a man of few words, religious Tamilian, who spoke with heavy accent. His unique trait was the way he answered the phone – when any of us called him – he would pick up the phone, and with his heavy Tamil accent say –
“Sridhar Idhar” (Sridhar, this side).
It became so popular among our friends, that we all started calling him Sridhar Idhar.
Bhagwaan jab deta hai to chappad phad ke deta hai – Sridhar Idhar came as a Messiah to the hapless “first time travelers” staying in the 1 BHK flat in Cupertino. He proclaimed himself to be very adept in cooking!!!
Sridhar Idhar was willing to take up complete ownership of cooking as long as we helped out with the other chores in the house. Sridhar Idhar, Rohit and I made an agreement –
- Sridhar Idhar will handle ALL cooking – each day, every day
- All shopping, getting ingredients ready will be done by Rohit (with help from Arindam as needed)
- And poor me got relegated to “DO the Dishes, Keep the house clean etc…”
It was apparent on the first day itself that a certain “Arindam Maitra” would NOT be much help in the kitchen!! Rohit requested me to cut the onions and keep it ready for Sridhar Idhar to cook, once he is back from office. I expertly completed the chore in NO time, only to find Sridhar Idhar very upset when he saw the expertly “cut onions”.
I had cut two onions – into four halves each!!!
“WHAT CURRY CAN I MAKE WITH THOSE ONIONS?” – Sridhar Idhar shouted… I quietly made my way to the other room, and feigned to be cleaning up the MESS that we had created eating Doritos earlier in the evening!
Anyway – Sridhar Idhar was REALLY adept in cooking. The first day he moved around the kitchen like a PRO, shouting out instructions from time to time. All said and done, we were VERY HAPPY. We can eat good food for dinner..
Sridhar Idhar cooked Rice and Sambar for dinner the first day… Yummy and delicious!
Second day – Rice and Sambar
Third day – Rice and Sambar…
Second week – Rice and Sambar.
Third week – Rice and Sambar.. AGAIN!!!
By the end of the third week, Rohit was starting to get frustrated. I was still thankful to have something to eat, albeit, bit disappointed that the TIGER (a carnivore that I was), had to live eating Sambar-Rice everyday in the SILICON VALLEY!!
“Enough is Enough!! Today, we must tell him to cook something else” – Rohit said on that fateful Thursday, with a determined look in his face! HE WAS FINALLY GOING TO BELL THE CAT!!
Sridhar Idhar returned from office around 8 PM, that day. Before he started cooking, Rohit said at his assertive best –
“YOU MUST COOK SOMETHING ELSE TODAY. WE ARE BOTH TIRED OF EATING SAMBAR & SAMBAR & SAMBAR”
Sridhar waited for a couple of seconds before he answered…the silence before the storm! “This cannot be good, we have ruined it now, we will never get any food anymore, and having “Number 7″ from McDonald’s everyday was too COSTLY!!” – I thought to myself.
“I made Sambar Rice only the first week – Second week I had made KARA KAZHUMBU” – Sridhar Idhar blurted out, very animated and visibly upset, stressing on the new word that we learnt that day, and giving us the “YOU DUMB FOOLS, YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW THAT” look!
Rohit’s jaw dropped – you could almost driven a car through it… and I was worse – remember the scene from Jim Carrey’s “The MASK”, with the jaw dropping out, and the eyeballs popping out… I was having a first hand experience of it, and believe me – you didn’t need animation to make that happen for me!!!
The silence that ensued, though small, seemed like ages!! Sridhar went on to explain the differences between Sambar and KARA KAZHUMBU – continuously murmuring that he found it unacceptable that we could not differentiate between the dishes.
We said NOTHING. In our minds, we had already accepted to be “KAZHUMBUED in Cupertino” for next few months….
PIC 1: KARA KAZHUMBU – it is a south indian delicacy – more details of which can be found at – http://www.southindianfoods.in/south_indian_food_karakuzhambu.html
NOTE: I must also add that some of the events in this account has been embellished for theatrical effect :-)….