My significant other complained once, “Why do you always write about periods and bras? Why can’t you write something ‘normal’ for a change?”
So, here is a post, dedicated to my best half and I hope it will be what he considers ‘normal’.
My mother has a theory about why I never get into serious relationships (read: long term relationships with plans of impressing each other’s families, getting legally hooked up and raising kids), though I feel I’m serious enough each time I get into a relationship. I tell her that and she says that for a perfect relationship the ‘seriousness’ should last. It would have been nice had she blamed it on my impulsiveness, short temper, narcissism and ego, but she has a strange theory. She says I’m in a relationship with ‘aloo’. I love potato. I am one of those people who will be heartbroken if somebody tells that chicken curry can be made without potato. The biggest mistake a man can do is to take me out for a dinner date to a fancy restaurant. I end up ordering ‘aloo paratha’ while he goes for some exotic dish that costs a fortune and the name just fills up the mouth (literally). I think men have a thing for ‘exotic’ food. They probably believe the costlier and ‘unpronounceable’ the dish is, the better it must be than its cheaper and pronounceable neighbors in the menu.
I fell in love with aloo paratha during one of those memorable trips from Delhi to Nainital in my uncle’s Gipsy (which is gathering dust and rust in his shed now). It was a dhaba somewhere near Kathgodam. I was tired and not really hungry. My cousins wanted to have tea. Aunt suggested that we eat there because she didn’t think she could cook. I wanted to avoid it. I remembered my mother’s warnings against roadside food. Diarrhea, stomach infections…according to my mother one can possibly get infected with HIV by eating dhaba food. But logic took over. I was old enough to know that water, no matter how polluted or filthy it is, is safe to be consumed once it is boiled (something many adults agree with but are afraid to practice). And the way tea is boiled, it should be safe. I had a sip of the strong, over-sweetened chai and immediately felt refreshed. Once refreshed, I was hungry. The aroma of the parathas made me ‘hungrier’. I applied the ‘boiled water’ theory to the parathas and decided to have one. It was hot, stuffed with aloo, with a dollop of thick curd spread on it. I rolled it and took a bite. It was the best feeling I had ever had in my life (back then I didn’t know what an orgasm means). The hot ghee and the aloo melted in my mouth and then there was the coolness of the curd at the core. After that I became the ‘rebel’ of my house, eating from dhabas against my parents’ wishes. It has been more than a decade and my love for aloo and aloo parathas hasn’t diminished.
The other day, my best half decided to take me out for a date (a man’s idea of repenting for a week of stupidity is to take his woman out on a Sunday). Neither of us are the kind of people who would get all excited about going out. Both of us would prefer to stay indoors all the time, if we had the choice. But he tempted me this time by telling me about “this Chinese restaurant where you get real Chinese food”. I had once had the privilege of having soup from ‘this place’, and I must admit, it tasted (and looked) divine. But then I had never actually been to this place so, it seemed like a good idea. Almost an hour later we reached an overcrowded mall. He said we will get something to drink and sit there for some time. It seemed stupid, but I didn’t ask any questions. We sat there with pav bhaji, Delhi mixed chat and a bottle of overpriced mineral water. We were bitching about decked up women, noisy kids, ‘tharki’ old men ogling at those decked up women, home, siblings, education, corruption, religion…it went on (you see, we are the ‘intellectual’ couple and on a date, we don’t talk like normal couples do). In the middle of the conversation, he looked at his watch and ended it abruptly.
“Let’s go and get the ticket.” He told me, grinning like a teenager who had just given the first surprise to his girlfriend.
It took me a few seconds to get everything. Okay! We were there for a movie. I grinned back.
“Should I have told you?” he asked me (now in the innocent infant-like tone).
Of course, you ass! What if I had refused to get into the mall? What if I had started fighting with you for bringing me into a crowded place and making my headache worse? Not only would I have felt guilty later, I would have ruined a perfect evening and you would never have taken me out again. Men! They are stupid, but sometimes such sweet gestures come out of the stupidity. I had to appreciate that.
I smiled and squeezed his hand. That was supposed to mean, “I am really happy with this surprise. I love you for being so sweet.” If he interpreted it in some other way, it wasn’t my fault. The movie was stupid. Too much action, violence and of course, sex. And it took a good three hours. When we got out, he drove towards ‘the restaurant’. Sometimes he is too optimistic. The place was closed, as I expected. I wasn’t really hungry. All the explosion in the movie had given me a severe headache and I just wanted a cup of strong coffee to get rid of it. He was hungry, though. He stopped abruptly. I looked back and saw a ‘mobile’ restaurant. He said we would get something from there. The aroma was tantalizing and awakened my appetite. We checked the menu. I ordered the first thing I saw. Aloo paratha. He got a chicken mughalai paratha (or was it mughalai chicken paratha….who cares, it is the name of a paratha, not an English sentence. The order of the words doesn’t really matter). He kept making fun of me. He probably thought I’m boring and never try anything new. We got our respective parathas parceled and came back. The first bite of the paratha reminded me of the paratha I had at Kathgodam all those years ago (minus the curd and the pollution free surroundings). He gave an orgasmic expression after taking a bite of his ‘chicken mughalai paratha’. I was eating slowly, enjoying each bite, when suddenly; he pushed his plate of half-eaten paratha towards me.
“It’s too heavy.” He complained, stroking his stomach. “Eat this.”
I had to give him my half-eaten aloo paratha and take his plate. Once we were done, both of us agreed that the food was really good (our first ‘agreement’ in, probably, a week).
“We must go there and try everything they have.” He said (the over-enthusiastic foodie!).
“Yes.” I agreed. “Everything that has aloo in it.”
He looked at me for a minute, gave me his “You are just impossible!” expression and got up. Thankfully, he didn’t ask me, “What do you love more? Aloo or me?”
I would have said, “Aloo…obviously.” And that would have started another fight between us. My mother was right. I am in a relationship with ‘aloo’.