Tandoori in Tooting


Chief Minister (5k+ posts)
Premium Member

3 June 2011
I love going to England. Except for the language problem in that very few folk speak English it becomes a bit of a hassle wiping the rust off Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi.
They speak it so well. Landed at Heathrow the other day and after passing Immigrashun and Kustums was met by the Malhotras who are old friends and we drove to Euston (avoiding Southall since no subcontinental worth his salt stays there any longer) where we were received by their neighbours, the Khans and
the Joginder Singhs, the first formerly from Lahore and the latter from Jullunder.
That evening we had a great chicken biryani and then settled down to watch a DVD of Dhobi Ghat, though what with jetlag and all that I bowed out and went to bed. Next morning we started off bright and early for Birmingham via Slough where we spent a very pleasant hour with the Gandharvs and their third generation children who wanted to know if Sonia Gandhi was likely to ever become Prime Minister of India. It was cheerfully political and then we zipped off for Bham to spend the weekend with the Chopras, distant relatives of ours and it was like old home week what with half a dozen kith and kin coming along to meet me and get the latest about the larger family. I showed them clips from the mobile phone and everyone ooohed over how sundry relatives looked.
Of course, the Zee News broadcast would have been well ahead on the headlines but then, the mutton curry was delicious not to mention the cauliflower parathas.
On the third day I called Nick and Alison of the good old Dubai days when we squashed together and Nick called me over for dinner and I felt so okay, at last a British meal, bit of a change, hopefully wed have a nice stew and mince pies. But they were so eager to make me feel at home theyd got in balti takeaway, prawn-flavoured, and Alison wanted to know if it was anything like the real thing and Nick said, let Bik alone with the yoghurt for a few minutes, he makes a mean lassi (Indian buttermilk), and the next thing you know here we were sitting in Maidenhead quaffing curry and rice and washing it down with salty lassi.
The next day we went to look for a printer since I needed to make a corporate rate card and found Moomet in Stratham and he is from Karachi and we talked about people we knew in common in Dubai and he gave me a hefty discount and after the work was done he insisted I come with him home for lunch to Tooting and it was a great afternoon what with his wife having cooked up a storm especially the nihari. Then they drove me to the Tube station.
Talked to Paul Rawkins who used to be here in Dubai and he said lets meet at New Bond Street which we did and hed booked a table at The Last Viceroy because he thought I probably am so tired of English food and nothing like a good pappadam meal to make a fellow feel at home.
So we had rice pilau and pickle, tandoori chicken and jalebis for dessert and then it was last day and I spent it with the Baruas in Putney and they were having a Sunday potluck brunch (Bengali food with their Bengali friends) and everyone spoke Bengali and since I dont know Bengali I was relegated to a corner where I stuffed myself on extra-sweet rosagullas. I could have been in Calcutta if ambience anything to go by and after that we played some Hindi disco and remarked on how Bollywood was taking over the world, and we sat and swapped stories of Cal when Cal was really Cal.
Finally, it was time to go home and there I was settled into the plane and the hostess walked by and I said could I have bangers and mash with mushy peas for lunch.
And she said, sorry Sir, on this flight east we serve a biryani or a korma.
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Chief Minister (5k+ posts)
Bikram Vohra writes excellent satire.I always read his articles in Khaleej Times.Here is another masterpiece worth reading.

Look, don’t talk to me

Bikram Vohra (Between the lines)

28 May 2011, 7:14 PM
See that car. Parked next to yours at a red light. See the man in the car leaning to the left.
Yawning. See the woman in same car leaning sharply to the right. Tight-lipped. Deep silence. Frosty atmosphere. Grand canyon between them. They are husband and wife. They love each other but not right now. They are going to a party. They have had a roaring fight upon leaving home.

Married couples always fight as they leave home and on the way back. She has told him to just stay off her case and drive, will you, just leave me alone, please, I am up to here with you, just driiiiive.
He has told her he is up to here with these parties and can’t they stay home for once, huh, just once, he is missing the semi finals of the IPL for this.
She has told him she wishes she wasn’t married to the world’s biggest bore.
He has told her that if there are any bores in the world it is her friends.
She has told him if it wasn’t for her there would be no friends at all.
I think it is absolutely marvellous how well married couples can communicate so eloquently without saying anything. These two have clearly declared a silence zone and neither will breach it. The signal turns green and they drive off still not having bridged the gap between them.
They are even more obvious in a restaurant. You have seen them. That couple in the corner. She is twisting a rose stem looking like she wishes she was somewhere else. He is playing with the edge of the menu, tapping the tumbler wishing he was somewhere else.
She is placing the order, he is saying he’ll have a salad. She’s saying how can I have a steak if you have a salad, if you think I am being extravagant spit it out, don’t get cute and order salad, you hate salad. He is saying, look, if I want to have salad, I’ll have salad, you want to guzzle on steak be my guest. She says, see the word used, guzzle, not eat, guzzle, I don’t want anything.
Will you stop making a scene?
Me making a scene, it is you who’s impossible, you have no idea how to have fun.
We do so much more of it nowadays, literally producing a private language. Let’s say the husband returns home late in the evening. On entering he instinctively knows there is a problem.
He: What’s wrong?
She: Nothing’s wrong. What makes you say that? Why should anything be wrong?
He: I didn’t say that, I just felt you’re not in a good mood.
She: My mood is fine.
He: Good, good no problem, my fault.
She: You don’t like my mood, you could have married someone else.
He: What’s got into you? There has to be something wrong.
She: Not that you care, at least you have an outside life, all I have is domestic drudgery.
He: The houseboy has been hassling you again.
She: Don’t always bring it to that level... not that you’ll take my side, I am sick and tired of everything, if you don’t know what’s wrong, why ask me?
And so on...
…In reverse. He comes home, throws the briefcase, mutters a curt hello, marches off to his room.
She: Ssh, children, daddy’s in a bad mood.
He: You don’t have to mock it.
She: What did I say? All I did was keep the children out of your way.
He: So make me out to be a monster. Can’t a guy get some privacy some time? Just leave me alone.
She: Don’t raise your voice at me. I am not one of your office minions. If you’re in a foul mood, you don’t have to take it out on us, we haven’t been having a holiday either, so don’t just stomp in here and expect us to jump.
He: I don’t need this, I just don’t need this, I just don’t need this in my house.
She: It’s my house, too, it’s our house.
And so on. Body language at its best.
Bikram Vohra is Khaleej Times Editorial Advisor. Write to him at [email protected]
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