Friday 12 October 2007


I woke up before the alarm went off to dash to the bathroom. Had it not been for the necessary trip to toilet, I probably would have woken up shortly after anyways as the same idiot that played Daddy Cool loud last night for a good few minutes was stupid enough to do the same thing (only to a different tune) for a couple of minutes in the morning.

We finished packing our bags, checked out, left our bags with the reception and walked to our Indian cooking instructor, Sashi. We entered the family house (a tiny home of two rooms) where

...and this is when my trusted Psion 5mx decided to give up on me. After years of reliable and effective text entry in the most remote and challenging situations, my Psion collapsed under the common flexy cable problem. The following notes were taken with the most infallible devices, pen and paper.


Shower and no breakfast this morning, as we had been told to come hungry to our cooking class straight after getting up.

We got to Shashi's house a bit early, and caught her still doing her morning chores, which included perentorially talking to her children. We volunteered to come back in a few minutes, but she insisted we come in, so we did.

We sat at the table in the first room of her tiny house, which was used as a bedroom, living room and entrace hall. We read through the recipes of the dishes we were about to prepare.

Sashi invited us to take notes to expand the range of dishes we could prepare with the same basic sauces. It was a bit confusing at first, but everything make much more sense once we actually started cooking,

We made some delicious masala chai tea, which we gladly sipped on while Shashi had a shower.

Then, the cooking marathon madness started. We juggled at the stove for four hours straight, with no breaks, making every recipe that was in our notes, from naan bread, to chutney parantha, from chatpati bread to masala chai.

The cooking was sometimes briefly interrupted by people coming into the house to speak to Shashi or her children, or to feed the pet turtle (a huge turtle) living outside on he balcony, or to prepare pots filled with earth, seeds and incense to celebrate the religious festival of Dusshera.

It was very interesting to see people come and go, and the way they chatted to each other, hanged around the house, went about their daily lives. Everybody was obviously used to having tourists in the house, so they all acted very naturally around us.

I couldn't help but notice that certain cooking practices weren't exactly hygienic, but so it goes. I wasn't certainly going to complain about the fact that the same cloth used to clean plates and utensils was also used to scrub the floor.

The food tasted great, no matter whether the little black thing scurring around the cooking tabletop was not a gecko as I initially thought, but a mouse lurking out, making incursions to the table in search of food. It must have found its way to the food, since he ventured all the way out to the centre of the table on at least one occasion (when I realized that was no gecko). It also had unfettered access to the entire kitchen when all of us where to the other room on a couple of times.

In any case, the food we made was actually gorgeous and plentiful. At the end of our cooking effort, we ate at the table with the whole family around us, and had a taste from all the dishes laid out in front of us. We ate as much as we could, and what we couldn't fit in our bellies went into a doggie bag for later consumption.

We did take in more than just the food from our time with Shashi. The conversation fell on Shashi life story. This is when we learnt that Shashi, a bhramin woman, was forced to work hard jobs, despite belonging to the highest caste, when her husband died years ago.