Thursday, May 28, 2020

Dammit Covid - Did you have to cancel Gluttony as well?

The beloved breakfast buffet, the sole reason why many of us went for vacations, is about to be relegated to the dustbins of history. I mean I get it. These are unusual times. Thanks to bat borne virus, the greatest threat to humanity is now humankind. We are supposed to jump into the nearest hedge every time we sense human presence to save ourselves from their length and breath.

Hotel buffets is where guests converge to exchange pleasantries, germs and viruses. Ask the ladle, the chafing dish that has been touched so many times by so many. It’s the favoured playground of the gluttons because dammit I paid 20k a night for a deluxe room with ‘all you can eat breakfast’ package. Diets die a swift death and without any regrets. And why not? How many times in our lives do we get the opportunity to eat our weight in aloo bondas, meatballs and egg Benedict, and follow it up with a mountain of croissants, muffins and danish pastry taller than Everest! And then wait for a pot of green tea to erase our guilt.

Agreed, Mrs Mehra’s chutney smeared hands on the sambar ladle will now be a health hazard and Samikshaputrika sneezing near the bagels will give us seizure. But hey, that doesn’t mean you can deprive me of the dilemma of having to choose between crab legs and poached prawns while downing wheat-germ shots! Buffet breakfasts taught me the art of balancing my plate delicately on one hand while trying to open the lid of the chafing dish with the other with the other and then dropping it with a loud clang on the floor.

God forbid if hotels go a la carte, my vacations will become as bland as the daal I had on my last trip to London. Imagine having to start your day without half a dozen sausages, smoked salmon cartwheeling with bircher muesli, coffee, orange juice inside your stomach, and not being able to complain about indigestion for the rest of the day! And now I am getting the sinking feeling that lunch and dinner buffets are on their way out too. Oh no! My life will become pointless if I won’t get to spend nearly an hour at the buffet table meditating in front of the 16 varieties of orange gravies that look exactly the same but claim to be different. I’ll miss giving exasperated looks to the lady who’ll appear out of nowhere to ask me if this dish is gluten free, fat and taste free! Is this prawn or fish? Is this dish vegetarian?

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Quarantine- when you discover everyone has hidden talents and you have none

The last 50 plus days of quarantine have been extremely distressing for me. I had to experience the ignominy of discovering that every single one of my friends and acquaintances, including the ones I had long dismissed as useless, have hidden talents. While everyone I knew and did not care to know was busy channeling their inner Jamini Roy, Lady Gaga. Behen halwai, Nigella minus the decolletage, handstand diva, I discovered I had none.

Maybe their huge reserves of talent was a shy thing, bit of an introvert, waiting for an epidemic to be coaxed out of the closet? Perhaps the anxiety pangs of dying from a mere virus had made everyone desperate to seek refuge in creative pursuits and discover to their horror they were damn good! I would stay up all night desperately seeking answers to these questions. I even tried passing off insomnia as a talent but realised it was too commonplace.

Initially it wasn’ t this bad. I was too busy feeling euphoric and was determined to make the most of this unexpected break from the outside world. One could actually open windows without being assaulted by cacophonous sounds of screechy traffic. The air had become so clean, I could actually see my neighbour weeping on her balcony. Rivers were detoxing with relief. I would often stand near our windows for hours hoping to spot a leopard.

Nature was healing, you know!

As an act of self preservation I pretended not to care at all. I had even mastered the dead fish look while I faked astonishment and awe with panache. But pretty soon it became impossible to be the ostrich and ignore the sudden influx of talent parades. Inside me was a raging dust-storm. My heart was breaking into tiny pieces. I tried assuring myself my heart would emulate the Japanese art of Kintsugi. The broken pieces would magically rejoin themselves with lacquer dusted gold and become so beautiful that I’d be tempted to take it out and flaunt it for envious glances.

Even as I was busy dismissing these divas as wenches suffering from performance anxiety, constantly seeking validation from strangers who they will never meet, a part of me was dying to wear the crown. I wanted to do back flips and splits in my living room, without crashing into the furniture and breaking a limb or two! I wanted my breads to rise and shine and sing an aria too while they were at it! I was finding it impossible to accept I was a lazy oaf who lacked the willpower to pick up a new skill, or master a language I may never use.

My impatience and addiction for a drug called Netflix was the biggest impediment between me and imminent greatness. Obviously I have many hidden talents. I just don’t have the time to rake them out!

Eventually I did find my refuge, not in french bread braids, overripe bananas or my vocal chords, but in my rows and rows of potted plants. If I could clean pigeon potty all day and feel like their long lost Mom without wings, surely I could adopt my plants and smother them with tender care! Plus they needed protection from these winged assholes who were treating my helpless plants like their ‘all you can eat buffet!’