Pulao…

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This is the one cuisine that every Indian loves, in his or her own way maybe, the archetypical Pulao… I love it too and never leave a moment to go overboard with the lunch when the Pulao is on offer. Every part of India adds a distinctive flavor of its own to it and yet it is the basic Pulao made of rice, veggies, sometimes a dash of chicken here and there….but, it is The Pulao!!!…

I went through the official emails I had, for the last couple of days. Yesterday, there was a mail by the admin to celebrate the birth of a child to one of the employees and here I am today reading another mail moaning the death of a colleague’s wife…

I saw at the gates of my plant and see tremendously low movements compared to last year, the oil industry downturn had left its mark…and here I am reading another subdued mail detailing the achievement of a production benchmark….

Every time I take this flight from the middle of the desert to the richness of my home port…the sandy dunes sparsely sprayed with dwellings and a few trees give way to lush green fields and water bodies enthused with life. The calm, forlorn silence of the sands is converted to the honks and noises of a bustling metropolis. As the day started now with a concern for the upcoming work schedule, for a few days it would just be laziness of the bed, warmth of the morning tea and few minutes of aimless gaze at the old people walking by and the organized chaos of the day unraveling …

The picture of this Pulao was taken at my Didi’s place during the Durga Pujo…she made it to throw us all a good meal and here she was, afflicted severely by the pains in the body signaling the advent of arthritis and a subtle reminder of age catching up. However, that didn’t discourage her by any means to plan ahead for a new LED TV at home. The Pulao, with such a gorgeous palate, yet cooked in the simple aluminum ‘Kadhai’ which has been Didi’s treasure-trove for years now. The peas, carrots, fried onions and soya chunks won the day while the victor lives in the world between the joint pains, a kid to raise, a family to look after and a TV to be bought… it’s the Pulao…

I had met this friend of mine after ages who is doing great in his career but struggling with his life, a widower with a young daughter, a kid with a billion questions thrown at the worst possible times and situations to a guy still reeling under the shock of his wife’s demise. I volunteer to take his daughter out to school on a day when he was busy and as I picked her up from school, I chance upon my next door neighbor, all but 40 and looks like 60, two kids studying in the same school, a father who’s blessed with a pair of amazing kids, a devoted wife and parents still alive to guide all others, a father who’s struggling and punishing himself every day at the thought  of not being able to secure the future of his kids with the education they deserve…

I was at my work site, fated like many of my hard working colleagues to spend the Durga Pujo and Diwali far from homes in the wilderness of the desert committed to what we do and exactly the other half of the workforce which was on leave, prayed to the Gods and remained grateful for having been on that day with the people who meant…

Life and Pulao are not that different…

– The rice is the base, white and shining with doses of ghee and yet allows all the other vegetables to glow in their own colour, this I call life

– The peas, green and small, yet produces this distinctive taste so different from the rice, to me it’s the signal of the winter approaching ‘cause that’s when you get to buy it… a few months of golden opportunities to hide inside the blanket as the sun beamed into the eyes, the usher of fun…I call it happiness

– The carrots, fried and sweet, dices of it all sprinkled along, cuts across the green sameness of the peas and the coriander, reminding of a different taste… I call it memories

– The soya chunks, perforated and ‘in your face’, cannot miss it within the Pulao even if you wanted, it’s everywhere, most wouldn’t like it in itself but gladly accept it in the overall goodness of the Pulao….i call it experiences

– The chilies, the moment you hit it, the succor is the water nearby, you hate it but the Pulao is incomplete without it, no matter how much you want to avoid it, can’t do without it….I call it failures

I composed this piece as I read through the mail on the demise of my colleague’s wife, the picture of the other guy blessed with a kid flashed in front of me. Such is life and I don’t mind at all the way it is, absolutely not…both of the above involved cries…advent of a life or extinction of one…I was here at my worksite three weeks back and will get a break in another week, meet my family and enjoy their company till I am back again to work and serve mankind.

The sun has just risen a while ago and the redness is yet to wear off, the day lies ahead for me to complete all the pending tasks, the guy will tend to his kid and wife, the man will go through the rituals till his wife’s cremation, Didi will get up with the pain in her legs running after my nephew till he leaves for school and brother-in-law for his office, my mom will dig into the newspaper and moan the degradation of morals in the society and I will be watching as workers throng into the plant for the day’s shift. As Robert frost put it “In three words I can sum up everything I have learned about life, it goes on…”

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