Deccan Herald/21 Jan 2004
when dreams come true, it can be more than you bargained for.
When I am in
the northern regions of the country, I dream of idlis. I dream of tucking
a heaped plate of the white stuff with side accompaniments of tamarind
coconut chutney, sambar, or a chutney made from onions, red chillis
dal. All of it washed down by cup after cup of steaming filter coffee,
dismiss me as an idle dreamer. Since I couldn’t get myself to any
MTR or Shanti
Sagar outlets, I attempted to make
idlis. I made the attempt
many times. In succession, I turned out idlis that
had all the consistency of
boulders, gritty cement paste and partially cooked
momos. You could use
my idlis as putty, as glue softened with water, even as
door stoppers. The t
hing was, you just couldn’t eat them.
And so I
dreamed of idlis. Soon enough, the holidays rolled around and it was
head south again. We were to make a stop in the Nilgiris to see our
a residential school there, before coming down to Bangalore.
Happily, I was soon
sitting down to a plateful of steaming soft idlis
accompanied by spicy chutney,
up in the Blue Mountains. I inhaled the
aroma just like a wine connoisseur
before tucking in at a speed and rate
that made all at the table blink.
Then, we were
at a friend’s place for lunch and she announced, “I know just
how fond you are
of idlis, so that is what we are having, okay? With meat
curry and sambar.”
Hurrah, I said with enthusiasm and prepared to tuck in.
All was well with the
full of stars the size of moon rocks and a chill wind blowing
in the valley. We
were at another friend’s place and after much merriment
and voluble catching
up, it was time to go in for dinner. “Guys,” announced
our hostess, “ it`s your
favourite for dinner: idlis with avare curry.” I managed
a heroic smile. I also
managed to eat as many as six of those delicious idlis.
It soon hit
home that that our guest house had a fixed menu for breakfast.
You guessed it,
idlis. Added to that, many a day we grabbed a meal on
the run and since our
favourite eatery did the dish well, lunch often became
idlis, too. Soon, we
were dreading dinners at friends’ houses since almost
all of them believed us
to be severely idli-starved and served us just that.
This really was too much
of a good thing.
we were heading back to Bangalore, a voluminous package of idlis
wrapped in banana leaf on the backseat of the car. There were
a couple of road
blocks en route which delayed us
considerably and had us
pulling over for lunch closer to 4 pm. No meals to be
had, announced the
Udupi hotel waiter: only idlis. So, idlis it was.
We pulled in
at our house in Bangalore at dusk. All through the welcoming
cup of tea, a
thought lay heavy on my mind. “What,” I asked my mother,
replied cheerfully, “The maid’s taken ill so I did the easy thing:
I made idlis
with onion chutney.” In response to my mother’s shocked
look at my howl of
anguish, my husband said, “She’s very happy. You know
just how much she loves
dream of idlis anymore.