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We all want to learn that one thing but never do, blaming lack of time. For Bindiya, it was cooking but lockdown gave her the time she needed.
Exotic aromas from dining area call out to us three siblings as we wait for dinner, as we always did at 7.00pm every day of our school life.
My mum had fixed timings for all of our activities. Two of us sisters, a year apart and a younger baby brother were always fed delicious Punjabi food. Mind you, I never saw mum cooking. And I never learnt from her. She gave us our lunch and then we slept for a while. She napped for half an hour as well. Before we were up and about, lip-smacking dishes were ready for the evening, and yet, she was free to help us with our homework. There was an understanding between mum and dad that all kids must be out playing and she was to be nicely dressed when he returned from work. The evening was their time together. She made sure she had time with us and their couple time too. All was neatly organised and managed.
After we freshened up, it was time for dinner. Delicious meals were spread across the table, mum and dad would sit with us and we lapped up our food. Our conversations were full of healthy arguments, discussions and funny stories of the day. Soon after, we were packed off to bed. Thereafter started mum and dad’s social life – visitors, dinners and movies.
Recently, I have realised that mum must have been very efficient at managing the entire household without full-time help. She would make all the meals, host parties, help us with schoolwork and keeping the house impeccable, that too with a pet around. We never had tuitions but we did not lag behind in class.
I started observing and appreciating mum only after I had my own son. One boy and I was always exhausted. Mum, even now, is enthusiastic about trying new dishes, hosting relatives or friends and so much more. Where does she get that energy? I love my boy too, but I could not do all that she did so perfectly, cheerfully and that too for the three of us. Now that love extends to our spouses and to her grandchildren too.
Mum raised the bar so high that I never aspired to reach. Her kitchen was just too perfect to even try.
“The lockdown with no cook”, precipitated my first foray into my late mum in law s kitchen. I am petrified of kitchens. I had promised my husband I would learn cooking.His mum had been a good cook and she had left this world before our marriage. He missed her cooking and he loved my mum’s food and I, in my romantic naiveté had made that promise to learn, but it never happened. This was the first opportunity after five years of our marriage to try and keep that promise.
With my regular job, excellent cook and full-time help, there was no need or time to cook. The lockdown gave me a chance to learn many new skills. And I did, with gusto and enthusiasm. I joined online cooking groups, connected with people, and cooked new dishes every day. I was discovering my culinary skills in my late mum in-law’s kitchen. Her Mangalorean kitchen with a Punjabi daughter-in-law became a gastronomy lab of international influences, with my Portuguese and French education influencing my food experiments.
My mum is the happiest. I am sure my mum-in-law is too. My husband cannot believe his luck and my son keeps telling me, “Mum, you know, you do not have to cook if you don’t want to, follow your heart and focus on your passion”. Yes, he is my driving force. As I educated myself in nutrition, followed the passion of exercise and started a strict regime of walking, I ended up losing more that ten kgs of weight. I think the lack of pressure to prove anything to anyone, liberated me enough to experiment with my food and body.
Now the lockdown is over, and I am back to driving to work, we are eating out, ordering food, our cook is back, but I am happy to make a healthy meal with food aromas wafting through my marital home, just like they used to in my childhood home. Cooking in my own way and losing weight without expert help has been a huge confidence booster and a unique lockdown gift.
Image Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/cheerful-asian-women-preparing-food-in-kitchen-5907626/
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