Saturday, February 24, 2007

Food and Attention

I am neither finicky about food nor enthusiastic about cooking. I think if the world invented tablets to keep one healthy and hunger away, I wouldn’t mind spending money on such tablets. But till that time, I need to find ways and means to solve the problem.

Breakfast is managed easily enough as long as I don’t sleep late which happens once in a while. Toast, apples, juice, coffee, butter, jam- that I can handle. Dinner is taken care of thanks to ready-to-eat dishes. MTR, Kitchens of India, are life savers along with frozen chapathis. Mention also must be made of electric rice cookers

Which leaves lunch. My Indian colleagues cook and bring their own lunch. I visited a Subway. And since I am not so finicky about what I eat, I used to order the same menu item on a daily basis. It got to a point that if there was an award for a customer speaking the least words while ordering food inside a Subway, I would have won it hands down and mouth shut.

A recent conversation-

Subway Guy- Hey, alright? 6 inch veggie patty, right?
Me: Nod
Veggie patty goes into the oven.

Subway Guy- Italian Bread? Cheese and Toasted, yeah?
Me: Nod
Italian Bread with Cheese goes into oven. Move in front of Subway Girl1 who takes out my patty and bread from the oven.

Subway Girl1- Lettuce, onions, cucumber and jalapenos for the salad, right?
Me: Nod
Subway Girl1- And ketchup for the sauce?
Me: Nod

My sandwich gets packed and I move parallel to it till I reach the cash counter in front of Subway Girl2 who has a packet of ready salted crisps ready for me along with the sandwich.

Subway Girl2: 3.44 please, and you are eating here, right? (She doesn’t have to give me a bag meant for a takeaway)
Me: Yes, Thanks.

Now you may think this is all great but it’s actually very uncomfortable for me. Coz, though I am not finicky about food, I am finicky about attention. And I hate it when people know more about me then I do about them. I was seriously considering ordering a Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki the next time but I did what I usually do in such situations. I quit.

I started frequenting a small Indian place offering a very average fare at completely-not-worth-it rates. And though I tried my best to disguise my voice each day and even shaved alternate days to remain incognito, I was found out. Before long, the proprietor wanted to discuss the weather with me and also tell me the recipes of the dishes which went into the Veg Meal that I ordered every day. Didn’t he realize that I obviously couldn’t care less?
And this did it-

Indian Restaurant Guy- Don’t you have Indian friends at your office?
Me: Yes (What does he want now? Can’t you just take the money?)
IRG- Why don’t you get them along with you sometime?
Me: They bring their own food.
IRG- Aaah!! They have their own taste. (Suddenly getting excited) But this is home food, isn’t it?! You come here every day!!
Me: Yeah, but I can’t cook.

That shut him up. Anyways, I quit again. Now I frequent an Italian place. But this time I am ahead of the game. I alternate my orders between a Veg Pizza and a Veg Pasta Bake (with cheese, peppers and white wine) and it seems to be working. Though yesterday, the proprietor did smile and look at me strangely.

But I am not worried. I am planning to get a haircut over the weekend.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Snow and Global Warming

I saw my first snowfall last week.

February is the coldest month around here unlike in India where this month signals the end of the mild winter. (As an aside, I don’t think that after this I would ever be impressed by the usual Indian winter, unless am near the Himalayas for some reason.) It doesn’t snow much in Bristol but nevertheless, snow was forecast early one morning. My friends got up early, I mean really early, went out and took photos. I am not built like that. But when I got up, I did see snow flakes raining down out of my window. By the time I was out on my way to office however, it was all over.

On another day, it started snowing during the day when I was in office. Myself, Prasad and Peter gathered at the window and took in the scene.

Prasad- “It’s pretty heavy isn’t it?”
Pete- “Naah! When it’s heavy, you wouldn’t be able to see that building over there.”
Prasad- “Shit! If it’s that heavy, then how can one even walk?”
Myself- “You don’t. You stay at home.”

On the whole, according to the local people, it’s been a warm winter and everybody seems to know the reason. Global Warming. It’s quite surprising how an environmental issue has come into mainstream parlance. I guess it hasn’t remained just an environmental issue any longer. The threat of Greenland melting down and submerging cities of Europe seems very real to people around here. I see the issue in newspapers and on the news in the rare occasions that I switch on the telly. This is not a problem that is going to be solved in a hurry though, and along with terrorism, is going to be the issue which is going to dominate world politics and economics in the coming decade or two.

If you don’t know what Global Warming’s about, an entertaining and educative place to start is the documentary called ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ starring Al Gore, who didn’t become President of the USA in spite of getting more votes than George Bush. He is now become the chief face of the ‘Save the World from Global Warming’ Campaign. If I have to say one thing about the documentary which I liked, it would have to be the no nonsense way in which he identified the US and Americans as the chief contributors to the problem. For a politician, it takes guts to do that. Is he ahead of his time? At any rate, I bet he is more likely to win a Nobel than George Bush as things stand today.

And speaking of today, I am now in the middle of a sunny spell. I can see blue skies outside my window, white clouds behaving themselves and staying in their place.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Boring Weekends?

People stay in a houseful of inmates and say they are bored stiff on weekends. They ask me how I manage to fight boredom myself, since I stay by myself and almost never seek company.

I don’t know.

I never have enough time on weekends myself. In fact, this Thursday, on my usual weekly visit to the Central library, I eschewed borrowing my usual two DVDs since I thought it would give me more time to finish the E M Forster book which I have already reissued once, but am only halfway through. Doesn’t look like that plan’s gonna work though. Half my weekend’s already done and I haven’t touched ‘My Last Journey’.

Now let’s see what happened today. I got up around 10 AM. By the time I was finished with my weekly calls home, it was already lunchtime (please note that I didn’t have time for breakfast). Grabbed a quick lunch and then spent some quality time with Monica (that’s my guitar, by the way). Then it was time for my weekly run in the Eastville Park. I am slowly getting used to running in this weather now (but that’s another post). I was back in an hour, caught my breath and went into a long hot shower.

It’s now 6 PM and I am writing this along with munching some sumptuous chocolate chip cookies, downing it with some pure orange juice (no concentrate) and Johnny Cash. If you are still reading me, you are probably stuck with boredom yourself.

Release yourself. As for me, I will head for that damned book.