Early years of my life were in a joint family then we shifted to a medical college campus which was extended family. Manipal more or less still works on the same principle. Everyone knows everyone still worse anyone’s business is everyone’s business. Privacy was an unheard of word except in the dictionary. Mind you all in the guise of being concerned well wishers.
It is not really as bad as I make it out we had great adventures sometimes I wish these kids could have an adventure like that. Stealing mangoes, swimming in the river when parents were napping, peeking to the “adult books” were minor thrills. There were slightly more injurious ones little setting the crackers off at Rama teacher’s class, or running the tape recorder at M.R.Bhat class this were a little more risky as it meant if we were caught then sitting down with pain would a matter of history.
There were also some community learning which we had, like one day we decided to bake a cake… I think we started off with marble cake and then shifted to sponge cake and eventually we were willing to settle for whatever emerged. Now baking a cake was a delicate operation as it meant there would be hovering eye of the cook, or the mother even if did circumvent these hurdles there was the maid next door and the auntie across the road all lurking as potential threats.
But when we only had to take a decision and universe would deliver it, Nirmala’s house was the last one in the enclave, she had no neighbours, the auntie in front was recluse, and the maid in her house was a willing accomplice and this particular instance she was out of town, oh! Yes her mother was a gynaecologist that meant she was busy too. Somehow we did not consider the Fathers as threat.
Anyway we got the recipe down, we were to use 2 cups of flour if I am not mistaken we did pick up the two cups, recipe said all purpose flour, and this was the flour that Nirmala’s cook Rajamma used to make chapatti’s, puries and she also dumped into the dosa batter if the batter got too thin, so we knew we were on the right track.
Then there was egg to be added 3- egg whites to whisk. We cracked the eggs which all over expertise that we were cracking the eggs for the first time, we managed to spread the egg in uniform quantity into the mixing bowl, the kitchen platform and the floor, now came the sugar, we ran out sugar so we decided to add Jaggery, the baking powder had to be added and the recipe said 1 ½ tsp. We looked around and found this nice clean spoon which was quite okay, as it was the soup spoon… we added 1 and a ½ teaspoon of the baking powder we had forgotten to pre heat the oven so we decided we will leave the cake in the oven and let cook for twenty minutes longer.
Just as we were jubilantly taking out the cake which was still beautifully three layered, brown, charred on top, the crisp edible middle and gooey, uncooked centre, still with all excitement we were on the verge of checking out, and the door bell buzzed, in walked Rajamma, one look at the kitchen our rear end had the forbearing of a future where there was would gross inability to sit on a surface that had no cushion.
Our offence other than messing up the kitchen, well, we had used up the wheat flour and not Maida… the wheat flour incidentally salted. The egg had not only got on the floor, and kitchen platform it had also invaded the jaggery container. The oven well it had become so involved with the cake baking that it burnt itself in the process not to mention the three days worth of dishwashing that we had created.
Fortunately our rear end was not abused, but we were made to take baking classes for the next three months every Saturday at Auntie Amla’s house…Auntie Amla by the way is the inspiration for Miss Sourface.
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