The Flying Cooks of the Suburbs

Would you say that many factors lead to finding the right house help?

Location, Salary, Timings and of course Leave. Some would be silly enough to think these are what we look for when we interview staff for our home. In actual fact,this is what They look out for when they come to interview us..

I belong to a Suburban FB group that points out these errant, super smart House Help. Many have amazing super powers like vanishing into thin air, re-appearing as someone else. Many find countless ways of taking what doesn’t belong to them. Many have short term Remembory loss. Don’t know who or where their last employment was.

The have all been educated at the same School. They don’t know how to read and write but they love Whats App and use the most advanced android phones. The same School that teaches them that everyone that calls your phone is a relative with urgent village work. The same school that teaches you to choose Lux over Medimix, or Dove for hairfall over Garnier Frutus normal shampoo.

My latest plight is I had to let go of my cook of 5 years. She was older, had all the issues, that came with owning land in her village. A flat in Mira road, a daughter that went to Rizvi college. A father with alzheimer’s. Who finally passed away. May he rest in peace. BUT this didn’t bring peace to my home. Each week came with issues. With issues came hurried cooking. High flame cooking, lots of oil cooking, excess salt in everything. How many times can you give expensive boneless cubed Zorabian chicken away? How many times can you order in,as the food was just not edible. WE did it for nearly a year. Cos she had issues. She was a FLYING Cook that seemed to come to ours at the end of the day to ROOST! 5 cooking jobs to educate her daughter. To rebuild a fallen roof, to pay EMI on the AC. How could I let her go? How could I give her the added burden? BUT she just didn’t see it that way. She didn’t really Love us.

The last weekend, my birthday weekend, I was away for 4 days. She had to cook three dinners. She messed up two out of the three. I came back from a Spa trip and heard complaints galore. Gave her the cheque and said Thank you but It was enough. She seemed resigned that this was going to be the outcome. After all,every time she put too much salt or oil, she got to take the food home.

THE FLYING COOK is an amazing breed of men and women. Smart, quick, smooth talkers, polite when the want the job. They agree to everything that you say in that first uncomfortable 10 minutes. But you should know that they will do it there way. Its a working factory model. Tried and tested. I experienced my first brush with the New Age Flying Cook.

Fast Talking, Name Dropping, Punjabi Food making Indu. Having worked with Models she knew about Less Oil and cooking Bake, Shake, Grill, Shrill, Salad, Soup. Jackpot. Pay her what she wanted. Asked her to come at 7pm. She arrived at 7.30pm. She was Flying from Santa-Cruz. But Hey she could do it all and even keep the Man of the house happy with the promise of PUNJABI FOOD. Bajra roti, two vegetables and a dhal. I could smell the Ghee. But I could see the Glee on Angath face. Kamal too sick for a reaction. He got Khichdi. All Was WELL. God is Kind! She cleaned up and disappeared by 9.30pm.

Day 2. 7.30pm again. Kids were famished. In anticipation I had already made food for the children. She looks in the sink. Kamal tea cup 4 glasses Angu 3 Tiffany boxes and says          ‘ I won’t wash this. I will only wash my stuff.’ So I stood there and washed it while she watched me. By then I was giggling. Then she said buy another pressure cooker as you only have one! I said Ok! She made potato to put the beef I made for Angu and I tell her to put it on the table. She says Mai samaj Nahi aata.( I don’t understand what you are saying?) So I say ‘ Put the cutlets on a plate. You need to feed the children when they come.’

PAUSE and silence in the kitchen.
I go in and she is leaning over my NUTRIBULLET that is next to the Sumeet mixer and I say please move it aside so it doesn’t fall. She says ‘Arrey Yeh Saab mujhay nahi aata. Yeh mera Kaam nahi hai.’ ( Oh, I don’t KNOW how to do this kind of work)  So I said it’s Ok. No worries you clean up your mess and let me pay you for two days. She wanted Rs 500 per day for two bhaji dal and 8 rotis. I was not letting it happen. I said you didn’t cook any meat and you didn’t wipe all your dishes and put it away so I’ll pay you Rs 400/- . We politely smiled at each other. She offered me a Number  for another Cook, I politely declined and  she FLEW away.

Flight to Colombo

Sri Lanka. Paradise Island. My Home away from Home. It resurrects me.

It was my 44th birthday and all I wanted was to be away from the Hum Drum of my life.

No morning alarm for swim practice, No egg white sandwiches at 5 am, No school drop, No picking up after people, No breaking up arguments,No homework, No ordering one packet of milk. The list of a so called home-maker is always endless. Maybe its cos I’m 44 and I know what makes me happy I decided not to think of anyone else’s feelings but my own.

My birthday wish for myself was to Sleep when I wanted to, not because I had to. Eat Food that I grew up eating, made with the right amount of Spice, Coconut and Salt. Sri Lankan Crab Curry.The Smell of the Ocean, Sound of the Waves. Laze, Read, Drink Passion Fruit Cordial..Its the complete package.

Many would say Goa. BUT that’s not a holiday. It is our holiday home, its so close that the Familia Sadanah may have happily jumped at the idea of a vacation for themselves.

Sri Lanka with my Chuddi Buddis. My Pillars of Strength. The minimum requirement for this friendship club is 25 years. YUP!

My parents had come to Mumbai for Leia 10th b’day, I requested them to hang around so that I could have a Guilt-free, FOUR glorious SUN-FUN-FOOD-FILLED days for my 44th!

28th September Evening. Bags took 8 minutes to pack. Bikini, Shorts, Vests, Trouser, Two nice tops and Flip-Flops. And Reading Glasses.

After Back-packing with the children through Europe, I had no choice but to live by the example I was setting. Deals, Deals, Deals. Mumbai-Colombo-Mumbai Jet Airways economy was terribly cheap. 2 hour flight to Paradise. Small price to pay…  Or so I Thought!

Had to arrive 2 hours before. Heading to the airport 2 1/2 hours before.We got caught in the worst traffic jam at 4 Pm. Did not panic as I had checked in on-line. Jet Check-in was quick, but The Immigration queues were long on MY SIDE. I stood patiently. Smiling to myself. FREEEEEE. FREEEEEE. JUST MEEEEEEEEEE.

On Board. Aisle seat. My Only Other request apart from a Low Cal Meal.( LCM)              Middle seat was free with a satchel belonging to a rotund looking man. He had round cheeks, big round stomach which pushes that belly button button in his already tight shirt. I ignored him. Till I couldn’t……

After take-off as the flight was levelling, my co-passenger takes out two blue small cylinders. Places it on his table. Out comes a tiny zip-lock packet with white pills wrapped inside paper. My alarm bells go off. Such paraphernalia was very popular in Night-clubs in the 90s. What was going on?!!!

‘X-CUSE ME SISTAH!, Vat Whiskey? Please Gib me Double Double peg. It didn’t matter that the whiskey the flight attendant mentioned  was something I didn’t recognise. My eyebrows went up at the DOUBLE DOUBLE. This was larger than the Patiala Peg( please google)  The Attendant explained slowly. ‘ I will give you a Double and come back when you finish!’   I was impressed This was going to be fun. The man had PILLS, He had Snuff boxes and he just asked for DOUBLE DOUBLE. Best seat in the house!!!! As she continues her service, he swigs the drink. One go! Down, it was over.

Food service began immediately. He pulls out his pills and pops them. ‘X-CUSE ME IM FULL BHEGETARIAN. ESTRICT!  I bend my head down to start on my LCM of red rice and steamed chicken and he reaches for the call bell. I know its the Second DOUBLE that has yet to come. I’m chewing slowly. Meals in economy get over really fast.  He motions to the Attendant and says ‘ I told you DOUBLE DOUBLE now I cant INJOY -food has come.’ He berates her as he would his wife during dinner time! (Drink pehla lao, phir khanna types) She apologises and winks at me. I’m relieved. He was a heart-attack waiting to happen.

Cabin Lights, service is over, I settle under my blanket hoping to catch a small nap. I was heading straight to some serious Japanese food and Tequila. I see some shifting. The Man opens his two blue cylinders removes its contents and starts to grind them together in the palms of his hand.. after the clapping noise he puts the contents into his mouth. The smell of chewing tobacco at 33,000/- feet is nauseating. I’m a polite non-interfering traveller. My awareness campaign as Helmetgirlbandra hasnt reached tobacco so I chose to ignore. We had 45 mins left and PARADISE was awaiting me. But I am appalled at what he does next…

He reaches over to the Sick Bag, pulls it open, and goes PUCHECK. THOO THOO.

YUCK YUCK YUCK. He continues for the rest of the journey to use the bag as a SPITOON!

This was the last thing ingrained in my memory age 43…..