Life in a Metro ……………. Well it is not about the fast forward life I lead, I am not complaining, period!
It is not even about how I have build cubicles around myself and that I don’t even know my next door neighbors. Sure it’s not my business to ‘know’ them. I don’t like being labeled as a person who pokes her nose ……. Of course it’s none of anyone’s business to know what Mr Iyer does for his living, although I have shared the same apartment corridor with him for more than two years. But I do know what car he drives! It’s not criminal if I don’t know his family. I know my etiquette's; sure I do smile at my neighbors whenever we come face to face on the corridor. Even I did care to return a post of Mr Iyer which had once made its way into my mailbox. I managed to get their phone number from the apartment security. I did check with them over phone before knocking on their door to pass the letter. And Mrs Iyer is a fine woman too. She did let me in and we exchanged few words over her perfectly brewed filter coffee while my eyes browsed through her well furnished home. It’s not like I didn’t know her at all ……… She is a religious and god fearing woman. How?? The chants of the shlokas and the aroma of the agarbattis that flow with the morning breeze tell it all. And yes did I tell you she looks gorgeous in her kanjeevarams and jasmines.
Having lived in an air force base I have seen people relocating often. When the Sharma’s came with their truck load of things on a sunny afternoon, I was at my study table next to the bedroom window. The window did let in fresh air and fresh thoughts to break the monotony of the unsolved Mathematics questions that I often struggled with. I saw many faces peeping out of their respective homes ………… and within minutes a group of people had assembled on the road. They were off loading stuff from the truck. I too sneaked out of the house and became a quite spectator of the entire ‘shifting’ episode.
People were there to offer all kind of advice and help, like where the sofa should be placed according to Vaastu, what school the kids should be sent, Mrs Misra also promised to send Mala her domestic help to help them with the initial cleaning. Neighbors’ volunteered for lunch and dinner till their kitchen became functional ……. One of the neighbors’ bought a jug full of ‘Nimbu Pani’. I wondered if these people knew each other already! There seemed to be some kind of celebration and connection between these people on the street. I was back at my study intermittently monitoring all that was going on. In a couple of hours the house of the Sharma’s was set and they were heading over to their next door neighbor for evening tea and snacks.
It seemed like the new kid on the block was no longer ‘new’.
I felt a jerk, the announcement on the Noida City Centre bound Metro Rail interrupted my thoughts. I realized that the train was approaching the next station. I looked around myself to only see lifeless, tired and indifferent faces. Some were busy texting and checking their mobile phones while some spoke atop their voice ignoring others ……….. few browsed through magazines and books. Sigh there was not much difference between the ‘Bangalore’ or the ‘Delhi’ Metro or the 'New York' Subway either.
My stop was approaching fast. I de-boarded the train carefully watching the gap. The thoughts of Iyer’s and the Sharma’s afresh and haunting me.
Note : This is not a true story, only a replica of my perception of the modern society we are living in.
Preparation Time – 20 minutes
Serves – 2
Long grain basmati rice – 1 cup
Milk – 1 cup
Water – 1 cup
Cinnamon – 2 inches
Cardamom – 4
Fennel Seeds – 1/3 tsp
Bay leaf – 1
Dry red chili - 1
Sugar – ½ Cup
Almonds – handful
Clarified Butter/ Ghee – 2 tsp
Salt – 1 pinch
Turmeric – 1 pinch
Coriander leaf - for garnishing
Method of Preparation
Wash and drain the rice in a colander till dry. Sprinkle the turmeric on the rice grains for color.
Put a pressure cooker on medium heat and add the clarified butter to melt. Add all the whole spices ( Cinnamon,Cardamom,Fennel Seeds, Bay Leaf and Red Chili ). One you smell the aroma of the spices add almonds and saute for 2 minutes.
Add the drained rice and fry on low heat for about 10 minutes. Stir continuously else the rice will stick to the bottom.
Add the sugar and salt and stir in till the sugar dissolves.
Add milk and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.
Add water and pressure cook till one whistle.
Remove pressure and let the rice cool. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves
Serve warm with spicy curry.