Monday, November 24, 2008

Weekend hangover

K greeted Fri evening with a heartfelt "TGIF" ! I amended that to TGIFF. Thank God It's Finally Friday. Can't really blame either of us for feeling that way. For him, it's been an exceptionally long week due to not the number of hours he's been putting in at his Piscataway office, but the sheer intensity of the work itself plus all the stress and anxiety that come as an unwonted package deal with it. As for me, spending most of my waking hours at home (and in the virtual world), I can't distinguish most week days from each other, except a Mon by K's long groans and moans prior to slipping on his formal shoes and Fri by the smile that replaces his usually nonchalant expression, a smile that broadens remarkably as the weekend approaches and starts waning predictably, Sun evening onwards.

K's office registered an unpleasant aberration from its usually monotonous routine this week. He came hom early on Tue afternoon, explaining that there had been a leak in their water pipes at Boundbrook. That ended up in a massive shortage of drinking and running water, necessitating that their canteen be shut down too. I was glad about the unexpected company at home (to think I'm saying this about my own husband gives an idea of how lonely I must usually feel at home) and made the most of it of course in terms of well, you know. Shouldn't have to elaborate on everything in life. One should a little leave something to the reader's imagination as well ! LOL. Anyway, my good fortune proved to be quite shortlived (as usual). K was back at office next day although he had a hard time along with others, trying to cope with purchases of miniscule bottles of drinking water. For 8 hours. The HR hadn't bothered to email employees about the still unresolved water crisis. Needless to say, he went to, office...armed with a huge water bottle the next day.

Dinner on Fri night (when we finally managed to find enough will power to resist inertia of rest) consisted of mix-and-match (K has inherited Mamoni's culinary genes after all, it seems !). The previous day's leftover rajma curry with that day's mixed veg khichuri and fish fries. Dinner was fun as we ate while watching 'Ratatouille'. I'd somehow never managed to get around to watching it earlier on. Quality animation and novelty of storyline plus lots of witty dialogues. A combination that defintely worked for us. I was logged on to Skype and thought I'd heard a missed call. It was from Rony. Tried to call back but he seemed to be offline after that. Caused a bit of confusion as I couldn't make out whether it had been a test call or a missed one.

Saturday saw the Mukherjees (us, silly) getting up at dawn (9 am) and eating the shortcut breakfast. Soup and toast. Soup sounded fancy, 'chicken with wild long grained rice'. Tasted just about ok. Experimentation doesn't always work, I realised ruefully. Breakfast over, I went for a bath while K called home. We had missed the 1st wedding anniversary celebrations of Titai & Abir, my nonod and nondai although we did call up to wish them on 21st Nov, the red letter day. But somehow, hearing lots of cheerful voices in the background coupled with the info that Mamoni-Bapi were there besides several of the couple's relatives and friends alongside Rimjhim and quite a few other of Abir's actor colleagues from the mega-serial 'Khnuje Byarai Kachher Manush' while we were missing out on all the fun hadn't done much to console us for our stay here. Talking to Mamoni and Bapi somehow partly made up for all that as they were unusually eloquent (especially Bapi) and managed to provide a lot of fun bits & pieces and scatter considerable local colour on the persons concerned. Titai was elated at her anniversary gift from Abir, a pair of diamond earrings (especially as she had demanded it as a reward for tolerating his persistent presence for a whole year) and Abir proved to be quite satisfied with his gifts too, a watch and a pair of branded trackpants. Mamoni and Bapi had proved quite uneventful and predictable in their choice of gifts, clothes (Titai's candour will definitely be her undoing some day, LOL). Bapi had been quite upset at Mamoni's not wearing the costume jewellery he had got her on their anniversary to Abir-Titai's party although she did don the Bomkai that had also been his tribute to their 31 years tempestuous years together. He finally relented when she showed him that pink jewellery did not go with a maroon saree (I thought Bapi had already conceded before family members that the light in the saree cum jewellery showroom hadn't been strong enough to distinguish nuances of colour) and so they had better let the matter rest. Abir had decked up at the party in Rimjhim's gift, a nagra, and Ma-Baba's gift to him (which had been part of our post-marriage pujor totwo) this year pujo, a white panjabi.

Anyway, after that, it was time for our round of groceries. The fridge had worn a very miserable look for the last week or so as we had exhausted our stock of 'fresh' as well as frozen vegetables and had been living off rajma, pindi chana, various types of pulses and lentils and soyabean for the last week. Witness to K coming home after a hectic day at work and looking too tired to take the car (and me) out again after that, I didn't have the heart to push him too hard. This time though, we didn't buy too many veggies and fruits since we would be leaving for Atlanta early Thu morning and so it would be rather a waste of time and energy at the moment. So we just bought relatively reduced quantities of most of the usual stuff like soup, granola bars, garlic bread, cookies, juice, bread buns, chicken, cheese etc. In fact, we did buy a couple of new things this time instead. That includes a jar of honey mustard dressing, a packet of vegetable chips, a large pack of chicken patties (for sandwiches) and a box of blueberry muffins. There was also a packet of pre-cooked shrimp this time for Madhav, K's colleague, whom we had invited to dinner the next day, disguising it as his unofficial 'aiburobhaat'. Poor fellow, he's soon to be a martyr to the cause of marriage. So you are allowed to interpret this as our attempt to cheer him up on the (un)happy occasion and prepare him for the prodigious quantities of food he would in any case have to be mentally prepared to consume at all occasions appertaining thereunto, back in India.

The major part of the next day was spent cooking. The menu planned ran thus : Fried rice, paneer butter masala, chicken masala, chingri malai curry, tomato-raisin-cranberry chutney. K plumped for the shrimp and fried rice while I decided to do the rest. Inviting guests over is certainly fun, but it's a lot of hard work too over here, since the whole process includes doing the dishes, cutting and washing the raw material, heating, cleaning the gas range and countertops before and after, marinating the chicken and shrimp, often recollecting the ingredients we've run out of and making a quick sortie to salvage the situation etc - steps that are usually excluded back home where the division of labour always makes entertaining easier and less onerous here. This time, there was an unusual setback in the form of the hot water taps running dry. Although maintenance was already working to resolve the issue, we didn't have the time to wait for them, which meant a repeated heating of water in the saucepan for various pre-cooking chores. In between, K managed a trip to the local Indian store to procure coconut milk and green chilli. He came back unusually elated, following his discovery of a newly introduced halal section functioning there on Fri, Sat and Sun. Men are such cannibals.

Despite the water issue, we managed to get everything done by 2.30 pm, after which I went to take a bath and prepare lunch. What with my gastric problem and a heavy dinner awaiting us that night, K and I agreed to lunch on soup and toast. We took a short nap and woke up around 6 pm. Madhav had to receive a friend at the airport, so he told K that he would be rather late and so, we had tea and muffins while watching 'A Big Fat Greek Wedding' , which I quite liked. It was a refreshing change from the usual Mills & Boon stuff that I'm generally attracted to most of the time. I can spend a lifetime just watching romantic comedies. I don't think I'll ever have enough of them.

Madhav arrived just as we were getting involved in the second film, 'Monster-In-Law'. J-Lo is so sweet. It was getting late in any case and past 9 pm. Since Madhav was absolutely adamant about not having any snacks, we headed straight for dinner. It was a fun affair, though the usual messy one, with newspapers spread out on the carpet and the aluminium foil trays laid out in the middle for easy access while we sat around them and ate buffet-style. I was relieved that Madhav took to all the dishes and had second helpings of most and even a third helping of rice. I'd been a bit apprehensive about the paneer as it was the first time I'd made this dish and wasn't sure that I'd got the masala : paneer ratio right at the end. Thankfully it tasted delicious. K's malai curry was evidently a hit as Madhav even asked for its recipe. Shob miliye amader mukh roilo, in short. It was a bit tough for Madhav to sit on the comforter and eat as he seems to have a knee ligament problem, but I tried to somewhat sort that out by fashioning him a makeshift table out of the box in which we'd bought our floor lamp. The oven is really turning out to be a great help in terms of heating food like chicken and rice, especially as we still haven't got ourselves a microwave. Quite a few people tell me that an oven is actually better than a microwave when it comes to heating food but I guess I'm not experienced enough to judge that for myself yet.

We all had diet pepsi to wash down the dinner and Madhav left soon after, since he had a lot of packing to do before he left for India but very little time to do it in, the next two days being weekdays and therefore necessitating that a whole lot of time be spent at office. We've promised to host a welcome party for Silpa and him, after their post-marriage return to USA. I'm quite looking forward to meeting her, especially (despite K's disgust at my Linda Goodman phases) as she happens to be a Gemini. Till then, so long.

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