Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Rice & Potatoes

Walking along one afternoon. You could say dragging feet along one afternoon, right after a real hurried lunch where I shoved some food into the mouth, using a spoon, so as to allow me to read stuff on the computer as I ate. In any case, walking along after a fairly unsatisfactory lunch, alone, in my office. Was going to the lab where I was expecting lots of people to present lots of their dissatisfaction and general cribs, even as they measured and titrated and stirred and generally learned lot of cool concepts.

So there is this construction work going on around here. Everything is being broken and everything is being built again. Indications are that this activity, despite the seeming feverish-ness of it, will go on for, well at least till I retire. Construction work means construction workers. I met a gang of them hammering at some things in order to break them. That was the activity of the day.

Objective: Break wall

Materials: Hammers; Towels; Pans; Hands

Procedure:
1. See wall
2. Hammer wall
3. Wipe sweat on towel
4. Collect rubble in pans
5. Throw rubble in designated place

& so on the worker bees (or ants for that matter) were at the task.

And here I was, armloads of degrees, monthly pay-checks; provident fund; life insurance, car, house, laptop, mobile, and so on. And there they were, red checked towel on their heads. Saris and pants covered in cement dust. Some of them were hammering. A group was settling down to lunch. A family. Mother, father, two children. Aluminium plates were brought out. Rice, red in colour from the pickle it was mixed with, was ladled out deftly. Another box was taken out. Chunks of roasted potatoes were handed out. They sat under a tree. Talking little, concentrating on the food. Hands washed. They mixed the rice. Rolled it, and one - two - three into the mouth. A bite of the potato. Mastication. Looks of satisfaction on the faces. Enjoying a yummy lunch together as a family after a tiring mornings work of hammering.

Did I mention that I opened up my sorry looking plastic box of rice and dhal with a slice of pickle in my office? Was in front of the computer. Ate with a spoon so I could still operate the keyboard as I ate. All alone in my office. While my husband, probably missed lunch as there were 'back-to-back' meetings (as there always are). While my child was fed her lunch (same as mine minus the pickle) in her creche. But at least she ate with a whole gang of boisterous kids who are her friends, and, when the mood strikes them, they share their food.

Anyway although I have dragged my feet and my mouth has watered at the pickle rice and especially the roasted potato, I am a few paces ahead of the eating family, who are on my left. I glance right. There, curled up, and oblivious to the world are two men taking their afternoon nap. The weather is pleasant, that sort of dull sky threatening a light rain, the sun a benevolent source of light and not much heat. Ideal for a short afternoon nap.

I went to the lab. Tried to make the best of the experience. Labeled bottles. Asked penetrating questions, made a list in my head of all the coloured substances there, and found many of them are violet, indigo, blue. Like my mood. A feeling of having lost my way somewhere along the way still persists.

5 comments:

Vanessa said...

I am sure, their Rice and pickle was far more tastier than your's. In Maharashtra, the farmer's dish (their lunch after hard work on the field) is Bhakri (kind of roti made from jowar or bajra) and raw onion. I would always think it must be so tasteless...
but then, the taste is not in the food, but in the hard work after which you earn the food...isn't it?

SrgntPepper said...

This couldn't have the first time you saw rice and potatoes that seemed to taste better to someone else. was this the first time it evoked in you a 'lost something' reaction? if yes, was there any other reason making you feel differently this time?

kbpm said...

vanessa -
i love even the thought of Bhakri and raw onion. Am sure it is real tasty! of course, especially after hard work in the fields!

srgntpepper -
well, i think i am older now. who knows, perhaps five years into a career i am ready to think about life's priorities a bit more deeply! do you think?

SrgntPepper said...

time obviously changes things. but shouldnt it (ideally) make one happier about ones own choice of pickle rice over potato rice. for me, it isnt getting easier i feel.

kbpm said...

SrgntPepper - i think the best we can expect is that some >50% of the time we are happy with our choices. you know, to coincide with the good and bad stuff that always make up a routine day.