Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sweet Endings

Last night, my mother, her maid, and I went off for a late night coffee. (Since this is Pune, and in Pune –BANER – late night was ten-thirty.) We’d earlier made a trip to DMart which is never a pleasant experience. I don’t understand those plastic tabs they tie around the zipper of a purse. Some purses, like mum’s, is put inside a dark carry bag and then a plastic tab is tied around the zipper. (Because they know how we are – so ready to steal everything that’s decrepit and nauseous...or, as they call it at DMart – inventory.)

Once inside, you go on a rather inconvenient treasure hunt to find sugar, flour, rice, and salt. These items, which are routinely bought, are tucked away in some corner of the store that even rats have written off as remote. At easy access, though, are sauces and ketchup bottles that were manufactured during the ketchup boom – that golden period when they were used in Mithun’s movies as fake blood. Also to be found as soon as you enter are various kinds of custard powders, other than the plain, simple, regular one, of course.( For any condiment or dessert mix that does not have elaichi, mango, or ‘zaffran’, one needs to write a petition to DMart owners and get it signed by 100 people.) You may also find some refugee-spirit infused vegetables. Although, I’m not sure if they can be called ‘vegetables’ if they are in that state of soft mulch that remind you of an earthworm’s insides (or outsides, for that matter).
DMart keeps things exciting by giving its staff excellent training on the disappearing act. If you cannot find the sugar or milk, you decide to look around. You think you will find a staff member who wears a vest the color of old blood stain. He or she will have a badge saying ‘Can I help you?’ You will sweetly ask, “Where’s the milk?”  You will be told where the milk is. You will go to the specified aisle, get the milk with the happy cow on it, and smile to yourself. That’s what you think would happen. But you are a stupid lout for thinking that way and DMart ensures that such loutism does not go unpunished.

Instead, this is what will really happen.
You will remember that you need milk just as it’s your turn at the till. Your mum will ask you if there is milk at home. (The tone will suggest that there isn’t so you can’t fake an answer.) You tell her to start billing the other items while you pick up a carton of milk instead. You get into the aisle that says ‘Milk Products’. You won’t find it there. You try another aisle that says ‘Dairy’ and wonder why that’s not a part of ‘Milk Products’ or vice versa. Here you will find towels instead. You may take a moment to snicker. You’ve just conjured up, in your mind, an image of Cleopatra bathing in water but toweling herself in a Turkish wrap that secretes asses’ milk. Since you will be giggling to yourself at this point, people around you will move away a little. You still haven’t found the milk. So you decide to ask the staff.

You turn to the left and you turn to the right. You think you see them behind bottles of Coke a few meters away. You dash there but instead find an aunty heaving a watermelon. You swivel around when you think you’ve spotted a blob of red from the corner of your eye. You dash there too. You run like the wind. You are alone and helpless. You are, in fact, Vidya Balan in Kahani.
Alas, no staff.

Your head’s in a tizzy. You get worried for your mother who will be lost and lonely without you (whilst trying to shove aside the reality that she’ll be sipping lemonade at the stall outside, chatting up someone).
By now, you start seeing splotches of that maroon-brown-red everywhere. You run here and there. You even pass the aisle that has…gasp…milk. But you are so feverishly obsessed with locating the staff that what you needed the staff for is not important anymore.

All in all, you lose. You won’t get the milk. You will have to buy it from the nearby dairy.
Anyhoo. Back to the late night coffee.

I was in such a sullen mood after the experience that I even said no to fried potatoes for dinner. Mum got really worried and asked me if I had constipation. (Now, this is a very odd thing with my family – close and extended. The diagnosis for everything boils down to bowel movement. I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising since the panacea for everything boils down to food. If ingestion is a big part of mental make-up, can excretion be far behind?)

I said no. She suggested we head out for a drive and maybe get some coffee somewhere. For ideas and plans like this, I love Linger On. I absolutely adore that café. It’s small and cute, their coffees are good, their masala chai is excellent, and their food – well, not a lot of places do tofu as well as they do. They have books and board games, helpful staff that help tide over the slow service, and good music.

We went there and mum spotted a Snakes and Ladders game. The three of us played and I won! Also, because we were the last customers, Linger On gave us a slab of Kiwi cheesecake to sample.

We sat there chatting. Mum suggested we try making the cheesecake at home. To do this, we’ll need a lot stuff that we’ll have to get from DMart. (How we can expect to get kiwi in a place where laukis are thrown in the ‘Exotic Vegetables’ section is beyond me.) I pretended not to listen and browsed through ‘Surviving Men’ instead.
The shutters came down and as we left, we saw a thin, silver moon in the sky.

Some days take you through so much crap. But they bid you goodnight in style and you wait to do it all over again.


vanderloost said...

Enjoyed! Enjoyed!

Vinita said...

Lovely :) the Dmart sounds like hell though, that's probably why the old-blood coloured uniform.

Mukta said...


omnithere said...


Anonymous said...

Reading your blog after a looooooong time and glad I did so Moo Moo!