Eternally stuck in this bout between confronting logically and diffusing sarcastically... Other than that, as the name suggests, I am obsessed with music (always seen with headphones), the colour black, art, sports, reading and writing.

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Rewinding the Reel

June 4, 2020

A slight tremble ran through me and my pupils dilated as the revelation hit me like a hippo on 'Redbull' (pun intended); but before I divulge into the crux of the piece, I ought to throw a little light on the journey which brought me to cusp of this 'divine' eye-opener. 

Everyone has a weakness: for Batman it was the Joker, for Sherlock it was Moriarty and for me it was 'tindora.' (ivy gourd) Yes, my nemesis was an inch-long green vegetable; but before you judge me, let me just say that if Bruce Wayne had tasted a bowl of these in 'The Dark Knight' then meeting the Joker would've been Valentine's for him. Anyway, getting back to the topic, there was nothing I hated more than going back to my grandmother's house after an exhausting day at school and finding out that my parent's had packed 'tindora' for lunch. However, before i revel more on this, let me take you back even more and introduce some people who you should know as they are pivotal aspects which define my 'its complicated' status with the vegetable. 
Due to having two working parents, I grew up at my grandmother's house; from the day I was born till I completed middle school, I visited her place everyday. Naturally, I created an extremely strong bond with her which was forged over innumerable fights over TV-time and combing my hair properly. Since my school ended at one, I had my lunch at grandma's place, it was packed early in the morning at my own house and delivered to hers. As I said before, I dreaded the 'tindora' days and I always knew when they were due to my caretaker who unboxed my food. On these days she would serve my plate to me with a callous smirk on her face; she was a peculiar woman my caretaker as for all the love she showed me, she still couldn't resist divulging into a few moments of sadistic happiness which came from watching me grimace as she set the platter of evil in front of me. (Pardon the drama)

I never ate it, always pawning it off to my cousin who relished the 'tindora' curry and this streak went strong for quite a long time until one fateful Sunday when all the family had gathered at my grandmother's house for lunch. This time I couldn't sense the danger coming as my caretaker was on a holiday; caught off-guard I couldn't hold back my distaste when my grandmother placed a bowl of 'tindora no sambharo' (sauteed ivy gourd) on the table. Recovering from this shock, I coolly passed the bowl around, hoping no-one would notice; but my naive soul had forgotten the fact that I was in the presence of a grandmother. 

She waited for everyone to briefly stop talking before she said it with a glint of malice in her eyes, (again, sorry for the drama) "Thodu toh chakh, mai banayu che." (Try a little at-least, I've made it)

There it was, the holy trinity of words, 'mai banayu che' (I've made it.) Now that I knew she had made it, I had to try it. Ignoring the blatant emotional blackmail, I wrapped one piece in the flatbread before cautiously dropping it into my mouth.

Now we finally come to the revelation folks! The oil seeped through my teeth as I bit down onto the perfectly crisp morsel; turmeric and chili coated my mouth as mustard seeds popped onto my tongue. A slight tremble ran through me and my pupils dilated as deliciousness sauntered across my mouth. Everyone looked at me expectantly but being a teenager, of-course I couldn't give them the satisfaction of being right. So I downplayed it with just a little nod and they all went back to their meals with a sigh, but my grandmother knew as I caught her staring at me with a satisfied smile. She knew she had done her job. 

To be very clear I still don't like 'tindora' and my grandmother's 'sambharo' is the only variant which I actually eat. Knowing this, my mother and my cook both tried to replicate it numerous times, using the exact measurements down to the very pinch. However, it just never worked and every-time it didn't work I had to explain to my mother that there was a difference in the hand which prepared it. 

As I am sit here, reflecting upon all these instances, I try to rationalize the reason behind this prejudice of mine. Why did I only eat her 'sambharo'? And the only logical conclusion I can arrive to is because it was made by 'her.' The 'sambharo' was not just a curry, it was a reflection of my time with her. Despite the bearable taste, what made the dish appealing for me was the picture of her golden bangles waving to and fro as she cut the vegetable with a quiet determination on her face. It was the image of her dress flowing in the kitchen as pearls of sweat made her glow. Little did I know that these images would soon vanish from my present and become little figments of my memory.  

The times changed. As I entered into high school, my caretaker left as I was all grown up and the daily visits to my grandmother's home became a 'once-a-week' affair for just a couple of hours as I had too much work. These things marked the end of my childhood, quite visibly; gone were the days where my biggest problem was a vegetable and avoidable. So if you were wondering why I chose one my most hated dishes for this article then there you go: the 'tindora' is a memory, a recollection of my caretaker's smirk, my cousin's palette, my grandmother's bangles and of old times lost.          
Eagerly looking forward to all your feedback, please let me know what you think about this piece before I submit it for an expert review. 

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  • theheadphonesgirl

    So glad to see that you could relate to my content, maybe I'm not the only one after all! Eagerly waiting for that review, i'm sure it'll be extremely useful.

    6 months ago
  • outoftheblue

    I relate so much to the part where you try a dish and don't want to give your parents the satisfaction of admitting they were right lol. Maybe it's an Indian thing.
    I love the nostalgia and imagery in this piece, i'll definitely review this!

    6 months ago
  • theheadphonesgirl

    (Ellen J):
    Thank you so much for the comment, it means a lot; I'm particularly glad that you picked up on the imagery, that was my goal.

    6 months ago
  • delete

    Oh my goodness! This is so promising! You’ve not only described the dish, but thrown in your history, culture and the imagery you associate with it. I like how you’ve described how you don’t like the dish but then balanced it with some really nice positives. I think you’ve got a good chance in the competition! This blew me away!

    6 months ago