Thursday, April 3

'A' AND HIS BKB



"Your food is a big hit in the office," so,I'm told by hubby.

Despite the fact,that the office kitchen lays out a fairly edible spread,my hubby continues to take his 'ghar ka khana',everyday to work. And I'm not complaining. This speaks volumes about my cooking! !doesn't it.Well,frankly,fact is stranger than kitchen fiction.
I admit, on a candid note, that I love to feed people, whether the food is worth being eaten is an inconsequential and small issue.I inherit this streak from my Nani,who was known for her guerrilla tactics,at the dining table, especially when it came to loading and goading people to eat more.
So, everyday at lunch time,hubby dear opens up his dabba,of home made goodies,much to the envy of other colleagues.There are ready takers for paneer and egg curry and Dum Aloo and mix vegetables and the sweets, for all apparent reasons.But,why the dabba comes back with leftovers, on days when it housed orphans like lauki(ghia),tauri,cabbage kuttu,lobia or the oh- so -healthy soya nuggets, is no great mystery.
But,there’s one man,who managed to capture my attention.Mr.A (we shall call him), never has lunch,but has requested to be invited,ever since he spotted ‘Baigan ka bharta’in hubby's tiffin (Steamed brinjal mashed and curried,till it fails to resemble a brinjal)….(err I like to believe that I have readers across seven seas,as well).
“Now,that’s an unusual dish, to be saved under the ‘My favorites’ column”,I thought to myself,one morning packing an extra dose of BKB.Till,one lazy afternoon,the story unfolded itself and was narrated over ,the office lunch table.

The eighties were gloomy times. The economy wasn’t really ‘Rocking and rolling’,like it is.A good job and a decent salary, was what one should have looked forward too.No,flashy M.B.A’s,were required to keep pace with office politics and the job market, and those at the top of the corporate ladder were genuine stalwarts, who had ample amount of salt and pepper,both in their hair as well as their experience.Mr.A,was the average engineering graduate, who had a good job and manged to make more than a decent living, with his wife and little son, in a plush one BHK.

But,then his heart said, ‘Yeh Dil mange more’…much before the pepsi bottle ever did.He longed for an edge,for that elusive M.B.A,unheard of.His seniors laughed and dismissed it as the lunacy of a young mind.Add,to this ,his commitments as a husband and father loomed large,upon him.He,finally decided to take the risk asked his company, if he could somehow juggle both the job and the M.B.A.They declined,but offered to take him back, after he finished his studies.
It was a tough decision. With no job in hand, it was a herculean task,to manage both the household and his tuition fees at the university. His parents, coaxed him to take help from them. It was the easiest option out, but somehow, he couldn’t convince his pride and conscience.
Till, one day someone gave him the idea of approaching a bank.Loans, in those times, were actually a proof of your incapability to manage your income.Apart from being very difficult to obtain.But, finally the bank decided to give Mr. A an educational loan, along with a stipend of Rs.500 for managing his home needs.
He allotted Rs.250 judiciously for home and the rest for his college and stay at the campus.He shifted, his family to a one room barsati,which acted as hall..Kitchen….bedroom. All in one. They shared a common bathroom,with the other tenants,where water till 6 am was a luxury.
Back at the campus,things weren’t all that rosy.A’s classmates were from wealthy families,and were more than aware of A’s economic status. With books being a rare luxury, A often relied on libraries and lending’s from his friends. With his purse strings literally like a noose around his neck, Rs.3 per day was all he could afford to spend on his meals. Very often, the portions would barely suffice the hunger pangs of a students’ stomach. It was here that A discovered, that BKB was possibly the cheapest thing on the menu, and would invariably end up, with it, on his plate.


There were times when,the stipend gave way much before the end of the month and A had no money to buy himself a meal. At such times, his friends would invite him home on some pretext or the other,knowing very well,that he would never ask. He too always waited for such opportunities.
After a grueling two such years,Mr.A went back his old company.Impressed with his ideas and diligence, they further, sent him for further studies, to the U.S.A.The rest becomes,predictable history.Mr.A today is the V.P of an huge Indian corporate giant and enjoys his life,between office,home and his grandchildren.
I’m sure you have heard and read stories that have more awe value than this.But,what touched me was the fact that,when most of us would have chosen to willingly forget anything associated with difficult times in our life,for,it isn’t easy reliving memories that are bitter,Mr.A chose,to retain the humble BKB, as a reminder of the fact, that the life he enjoys today,is a gift from his past. We all move on in life, often embittered by either love,family politics,destiny.But,little do we realize that those times are the benchmark to measure the happiness we enjoy today.

Mr.A will never read this.But,it’s a tribute to his infectious good spirit and his love for the bharta. It’s a fact known by none that I think of Mr.A, every time I buy Baigan and pack in that extra helping.I know,I made someone happy that day.
My granny must be grinning, in heaven, I’m sure ! !

29 comments:

~nm said...

I so love baingan ka bhurta! Nothing like one which is well roasted. Put it between two slices of bread and its yumm! Its been long since I had it and now I will surely make it tomorrow. Ok..I know I'm diverting from the whole point of your post but sorry..just couldn't resist.

This Mr. A really sounds like a genuinely good at heart person. A self made man must say. Kudos to him!

satish said...

We all move on in life, often embittered by either love,family politics,destiny.But,little do we realize that those times are the benchmark to measure the happiness we enjoy today.

well said. i made aaloo last night. i will make bkb someday.

Guruprasad said...

i can't explain why, but this post really moved me.

most of these self-made people are so humble, humane and wonderful. and that only adds to their greatness... they have such strong moorings... they never get swayed away by their position, power and wealth.

~nm said...

I had to tell you this...I was so enamored with having BKB after reading this post that I made sure We had it for lunch today! :D

Gazal said...

@nm
I am flattered.
hmm between two slices of bread as a spread..will certainly try it.

@satish
let me know if you need the recipe.

@guru
and the fact that their success and climb has not been easy adds up.

Prax said...

hehe....finally something about food that didnt have me drooling....write more about more unedibles - cabbages, karelas,lettuce, spinach....ew

pink dogwood said...

Found your post while blog walking - love the way you write - great post :)

Drenched said...

We all move on in life, often embittered by either love,family politics,destiny.But,little do we realize that those times are the benchmark to measure the happiness we enjoy today.
I liked this. I REALLY liked this. :) And I totally loved Mr. A's inspiring story. What determination!
By the way, I love Baingan ka Bharta. I've always been a fussy eater and nitpick on food all the time but criticisng BkB is something that I don't remember doing, ever.

Thinking aloud said...

this was a very relevant post..i've always noticed that people who have come up the hard way, are actually very humble, and selfless. Is it because they know the value of what they have earned?

never thought a humble 'bkb' would give rise to such beautiful thoughts...

loved this post, gazal...

Thinking aloud said...

ohh btw, i've seen an enterprising friend put this on brown bread and deep fried it (or toast in the oven) cut into tiny sqyuares) and served it as cocktail snacks...lipsmacking!!!

padma said...

heyy gazal!!!!

Luved reading the post..:-))) becoz...baighan ka bhartha.. Me Just luvs it!!:-))
could easily connect to the fact that u luv to feed people..Who knows it better than me? (havent i been the guineapig ;-))
Luved Mr. A! for being so grounded.. after all the success he achieved in life...! :-)) just goes to prove that self made people are humble, their actions speak about their belief... & they WALK THE TALK :-))

dharmabum said...

what a simple story, so wonderfully penned by you! kudos, i could picture A and his struggles all the while. it is strange how some things act as reminders, like BKB in this case. oh, is BKB steamed eggplant? i thought u roasted it on fire till it cooks, so it also gives it that smokey flavour!

you love feeding people. i love being fed. so when can i come home? PLEASE? :)

PS: i am dead against leaving food back on the plate / dabba. i think it is criminal to waste food. considering for one, all the people who go without it. but also all the effort that all sorts of people have put into it - from cultivating it, to marketing it, to purchasing it, to processing it with all the love and serving it - the least we can do is EAT, without wasting.

ap said...

Great Post..It is this humbleness that has helped Mr A scale heights..

Hats off to him and to you for bring this up.Feeling really motivated. :)

Btw I have tagged you.

Roshan R said...

don't you think thats the essence of the greater people.. they still remain rooted.. they dont change with success..they still value the old pleasures..no changing to caviar and private jets..

a wanderlust said...

i was observing how differently you have penned down some concepts like, well i liked the English usage " guerrilla tactics,at the dining table" and "plush one BHK".First one for its unique usage and really i couldn't but laugh, second one, as i am not a hardcore urbaner,(is it a good usage, to express city dweller)so stumbled then realized, the reality of hall,kitchen,and bedroom. Liked some of your writing ideas like @jaydip, and how this internet/mobile usage of special character are making its permanent place in mainstream English,in a positive way, is also a interesting aspect to note.
i loved the concept of BKB and associated stories, and it often reminds me, my love towards bicycle, for a similar reason. @drenched thanks for teaching me a new usage "embittered in love", thanks a lot.

Madhumita said...

Ok first of all, you must teach me what it takes to get your husband to carry home cooked meals to office! My husband always "forgets" his box on some pretext or the other - and its telling on his health. I certainly hope its no comment on my cooking skills! :-D.

Stories like those of Mr. A are nothing short of inspriring ... talk about fulfilling dreams. And you're right, takes a certain kind of person to celebrate the hard times. Like BKB ...

Friendly nextdoor guy said...

Ghar ka Khanna

will never be "out of date"!!

Its just not a fad, its a mega trend!! here to stay in Minds of Indians for a long long time. Unless mothers start feeding some new formula into our minds when we grow up!!

Parul Gahlot said...

wonderful gazal :)

Gazal said...

@prax
LOL

@PINK DOG
thanks for dropping by!!!

@drenched
lol...the BKB gets another fan.thanks a lot.

@suma
thanks a lot!!will surely try that on guests..will not tell them what lies beneath!!!

@padma
guineapig...what do you mean!!!(angry)

Gazal said...

@bum
yes..roasted is the right procedure..i guess its a slip of a the finger(on the keyboard)....i too believe in not wasting..and its all going to my waist now!!!

@ap...thanks and oh no!!

@roshan
and they don make them like that anymore....A is an exception.

@jaydeep
hey great to see you here...
glad that you enjoyed it....

@madhumita
its not me...but the office kitchen and his extra dose of chillies that force him to take the dabba....keep trying..maybe your husband really forgets it!!!!

@friendly guy
so well said....thanks for dropping by

@parul
thanks babes :)))

Ps said...

I always admire such humility and 'down to earth' attitude.Truly thats what makes a person great.

Gazal said...

@preeti

yes...admirable indeed!!!

a wanderlust said...

i am searching for some dubba-wala( wali also no prob)to have a smooth "ghar-ka-khana" at my new residence, but initially was afraid to enquire others as it is not mumbai and may be it is off-fashion in banglore, but well now after reading BKB, can i join your dabba team, too. ( i can see many greedy comments, so another greedy fellow, i hope, you can tolerate, after all tolerance is a great motherly feeling, isn't it

LOL

thereddevil said...

having being fed by my school right from the kg my mother cherished the fact that she would be sole supervisor of my nourishment in my 11 n 12.while i was super happy at the prospect of good food frm home i soon realised the inverse relationship that good food and quantity shared.Basically the better ur food the less u get to eat.I discovered many new "friends" on the days my mom gave me paneer or kurma. My mom takes this as a compliment,well my views differ on this particular matter.However by the end of my 12th i seemed to have worked out the right balance between "friendship" and my own rather vast needs

Friendly nextdoor guy said...

more posts please!!

--xh-- said...

mr.A is a man of will power and grit - salute to his wil power. most of us wodn't even have got out of our comfort zone let alone take all teh pains to get the MBA.

BKB is not a dish I relish, but this story will be etched in my memory :)

Deepak said...

This blog beats Chetan Bhagat behind.. What flow of thoughts.. !!

Manpreet said...

You sure were going to make me cry with the story behind his liking for BKB, so taken in was I by it. But I salute his spirit for not forgetting the tough days, and I salute your cooking too. Cos I am a terrible one.

Ritu said...

I simply loved this post. Wandered in here via Mampi's blog. This touched me

http://www.phoenixritu.com/