What are you so excited about, asked my husband even as he was having his breakfast of toast and cornflakes.
Try to guess, I said.
Are you going out for shopping with your friend, I forget her name, something beginning with T…
No, try again, I prompted.
Are you folks eating out?
Well, you are almost right because for once I am going to have home food.
What do you mean by home food? You always eat what you prepare at home and I do so whether I like it or not, he said with his usual sarcasm.
Not the food I prepare but what my friend is going to prepare at her home, I said, stressing on ‘her’.
Oh, now I can understand what the excitement is all about. Anyway, I wish you all luck, he said as though I was about to write an exam.
Needless to say, as I was on way to my friend’s house, I was only thinking about the menu she would offer. In fact, I looked forward to a nice meal as my friend was a good cook as well.
As I entered her house the aroma of pulav permeated the air making my mouth water. At least, I was sure of the main dish, I thought.
We sat talking for a long time as we had to catch up with all the news about our common friends and acquaintances. Just as we had finished, her husband and two children returned and we all took our places at the dining table for the lunch I eagerly looked forward to.
Slowly, almost half a dozen dishes were placed on the table one by one.
Oh, it was the choicest spread, indeed, comprising rotis, three side dishes, pulav and potato chips.
I glanced at my friend who looked fresh as a flower that had just bloomed and envied her inwardly. Because whenever I entertained at home, I would look absolutely fagged out and my guests would remark how exhausted I appeared which remark I never liked to hear.
The food was delicious and in no time we all polished it off as we were ravenous. Finally, the dessert made its way to the table. I wondered what it could be and when the lid was opened, I could see it was steaming hot rava kesari with ghee floating on top.
I dug into it as soon as it was served. The first spoonful was steaming hot and when I took the second spoonful, to my surprise it was as cold as ice. It was sheer etiquette perhaps that stopped me from saying what I felt but my friend’s nine-year-old daughter was more vocal. Mummy, didn’t we have this sweet the day before yesterday? Why is it hot and cold today? she blurted.
I didn’t have the courage to see my friend’s face. I recalled what the waiter in a restaurant we visited in Melbourne said when I asked him what was the dessert he would serve that evening.
Madam, it’s not what you had yesterday, but the one you had the day before, (it was rava kesari which was hot and cold because it was not properly mixed when reheated in the microwave oven).
I thanked my friend for the sumptuous lunch.
Meera, thanks to the microwave oven my husband presented me for my birthday, entertaining at home is really no hassle.
It suddenly dawned on me why the food appeared and tasted just as it did in any restaurant. Though I knew it was recycled, I couldn’t guess how long ago (how many days ago) it was prepared!
How was the lunch? My husband asked when he returned from work.
Delicious, I said, it was food served at home alright, I added.
My husband looked puzzled.
N Meera Raghavendra Rao