Thursday, February 16, 2006

Moved me, so behooved me

Yesterday, I was going through some mighty technical documents. These documents were peppered with acronyms beginning with rarefied alphabets that don’t find themselves in common use – X, Q, Z, E. So, whilst I trudged from one paragraph of incomprehension to another, I thought of the word ‘behoove’. It’s a nice word and strangely, doesn’t find itself used too much. This is despite people doing so many things because they are behooved to do them. What I also find nice is that it can confuse a person so effortlessly.

“Why did Ernie kick the cat?”

“It behooved him to do that.”

“So that means he isn’t going to the Derby?”

Now, it isn’t so funny if you think Ernie to be a man. But it is clever if you think Ernie is a horse. So if Ernie the horse is behooved, it doesn’t mean that his hooves aren’t there anymore, it means that he found kicking the cat necessary. It is also hilarious if you don’t know whether Ernie is a man or a horse.

I am not in favor of the idea though, by man or beast.

1. Anyway, here’s a list of things that I recommend. Why? Because they behoove me to do so.

There is this old riddle. Who is a diplomat? A person who tells you to go to hell so sweetly, you actually look forward to the trip.

Now, I mention an old, amusing joke because one of my old (and I don’t mean age-wise, although he is wise despite his age), very amusing pals resurfaced from somewhere a while back. He was my boss in the first serious job that I held. Amongst other things that he does wonderfully, such as arranging sheaves of papers and sounding cheery on the phone, he writes exquisitely. He used to write me these emails that I treasured because they were written so well, even though most of them actually did tell me to go to hell. (Sweetly, of course. An example of an email that was written because I had a yell-fest with a colleague: ‘The thing about this wonderful Universe, Mukta, is that you are not at its centre. I wonder how that happened, but it’s true.’)

I bring this up now because VH, my diplomat ex-boss, is now blogging away at:

Read him because you must, must, must.

2. J is a funny person and we are friends. She is a lot like me although she would sooner nurse a rash than share that thought. Both of us ruminate over our dwindling finances sipping large lattes (Rs.32 each), eating lamb cutlets (Rs.150 or so), picking out unwearable in public tops (Rs. 350 or so) and ricking walkable distances (Rs.30). Sometimes all this in one day.

Anyway, with J, by J, and through J, I have discovered several marvelous things. One such sample of serendipitous marvel is beetroot cake.

It was J’s birthday and she decided to treat Z and me to something nice – besides her reggae performance, that is. That too was thrown in but much later. Now, in Pune, there is the general misconception that you get good baked stuff at German Bakery. WRONG! You don’t. You go there for the ambience and the general interesting hoi-polloi, but if you want yummy cakes and delectable food, you go to Sweet Chariot. There, the cakes are baked to seventh heaven and cloud nine perfection.

We reached there and we wanted a cake – what with it being a birthday and all. There were several on display, one of which was innocuously labeled ‘Beetroot cake’. Because of the way our mind thwarts the idea of anything healthy as dessert, this cake was left alone. But what a stunner of a confectionery it was! The cake batter used a little beetroot water and the color was a rich, luxe mahagony, instead of regular dark, brown chocolate. J and I looked at each other and ordered it.

That decision will go down as one my most correct decisions of my life. It was sweet enough to sate my tastes as well as J’s. And that in itself is a culinary impossibility. As for how it tastes - the cake is smooth and moist and sort of evaporates into feathery wafts of luscious sweetness in the mouth.

Suffice to say, you’ll never think of beetroot the same way again.

3. One night after office, I had a ravenous craving for meat. Red meat because any other kind of meat is like tofu - the ‘what’s the point?’ kind of food. A very bland substitute for the real thing.

So, as I walked towards the rickshaw stand with J, I told her how I wanted to bite into something meaty, like meat. She understood because she too is given to such unearthly cravings. So we decided to try out a grill place near my house, ‘Mad House Grill’.

First of all, the font of the restaurant’s name is so quaint and wonderful. It curves and slopes hinting at a little bit of funk and touch of calligraphy.

It is just the most darling, cosy place I have been to in a long time. I imagine such a place located in a small, cheery town-village where people come in the evenings to share stories. And the food is unpretentious, affordable, and very very tasty.We had the raan one time that was flavored with very wholesome spices and herbs. The bed of rice was buttered and fragrant and the baby potatoes were boiled just right. What’s more is that the ingredients were so fresh that we didn’t feel heavy after all that meat.

And the piece the resistance is their dessert, Drunken Apples. Cored chunks of apples are stewed in sweet, red wine and sort of slopped over caramel and served with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. You will close your eyes when you put the first spoon in your mouth.

Mad House Grill in Pune is fast becoming my Mocha away from home.

4. And finally J. She’s too stylish and too happy to be the pontificating poet that she is. And like her very strange theories about life (most Indians are Saggitarians or Scorpios because most Indians marry in the winter months), her poems too come with a curious zest: Her poems are for Dino Morrea. Sometimes I worry for my friends.

You read her here:

When I first read these poems, I couldn’t believe that these poems were for him; but then before her, I didn’t know that beetroots could taste like that.

That strange thing about strangeness – it behooves.


Satya said...

Your writing is inspirational....inspires me to try out the beetroot cake :)

~Sen~ said...

heyyyyy...... had asked you for that "Twist in my Sobreity" song, read the mail?? :((
De do na if you still have that song....... plzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

*all the more whine*

neha said...

beet root is good.

have a slice with lettuce on a fresh roll; sometimes boiled egg goes well with it too. (i usually take the canned beetroot because they add spices to it, which is a bit tricky)

and ever tried beetroot soup? apart from the fact that you worry about the table cloth (quite a lot), the soup tastes very distinct but still doesnt saturate your tastebuds completely. so you can go on to the next course and enjoy that as well!!

:) and it sure matters who do you share the table with...

Khakra said...

i'd swear raan reminds me of vadapav minus the rice.. idhar amreeka mein vada bhi nahin milta hai, pav kya khayega

Shruthi said...

Why, Mukta, why? What do you have against me? I am now hungry now want to try out all the desserts you mentioned! Coming to think of it, the way you described them, I could almost taste it :)

chitra said...

Now I am behoven to taste beetroot cake :) :) !

Mukta said...

Hi Satya,

Yes. Do try it!

Heyyy Sen!

I will email you. Its just that I haven't checked my gmail in a while now. I can't access it in office. Will do it tomorrow, child. Be patient.

Hey neha,

Yes, I like egg and beetroot as well. But then I like eggs with anything. :-) Not a big fan of soups though. Shall try it.

Hi khakra,

You had vada pav with rice? Boss, where did you eat vada pav? But amreeka has big, succulent mutton burgers, na? Yum! Aur vada nahin milta, to banaao. :-) (Just kidding. Stop hating me now.)

Hey shruthi,
Come to pune. Will take you to Sweet Chariot. :-)

Hi Chithra,
After you have behooved to beetroot, please let me know what you thought. :-)

Hey! How come nobody said anything about the baby pic? That is such a priceless behoove expression! :-)

madhavan said...

I am a chocolate-cake-fundamentalist. I think all cakes should have only chocolate topped with more chocolate.

doubtinggaurav said...

Babies are messy.

I am so much allergic to infants that I can not understand how I stood myself.

I wish all babies will grow up and stop being pain in unmentionable parts

Mukta said...

Hi madhavan,

Give this a try! Seriously!


WHAT?!!!WHAT! Come on! Look at the picture again...don't you want to tickle its little chin? Tell me, tell me...

~Sen~ said...

ohhh......ummm... theek hai.... but I'll be waiting eagerly !! :((

Rabin said...

honestly didn't get past the caption and the kid's picture, wayyy too funny!!

Mukta said...

Hey Sen,

Have mailed you..

Hi Rabin,

:-) Well, there are other really cute baby pics that I shall put up in appropriate places. :-P

GhostOfTomJoad said...

The one thing I'm positively going to eat the next time I'm in Pune is this beet root cake thing. Sounds quite good. :-)

karmic_jay said...

Found your place thru desipundit. Cool post. I no longer live in India, but there is the part of me that has all those memories that are so vivid. I visit Pune once a year if I can(have family there). I should check out some of these spots you talk about.
It simply behooves me to do so... :-)

Mukta said...

Hi ghost,

yes. do try. I'm sure it'll become one of your favorite 'haunts' (sorry - hee hee)

Hey karmic,

yes yes - do be behooved.

Rhyncus said...

Now I wonder if removing Ernie's hooves would be called de-hooving, instead of be-hooving.
And ah @Madhouse, the place was so highly recommended that the purpose of my last visit to Pune was mostly to eat there. Needless to say (but we say it anyway), the experience was enjoyable.

jaygee said...

Beetroot is the key to immortality!! read Jitterbug Perfume!!:)