We are finally on our way back home to Canada and decided to dump stuff we don’t need to avoid paying huge moving charges, and then we started buying more things.
Since I am a foodie and I love South Indian vegetarian food, I bought a cast iron ‘tawa’ on Amazon that costs around 1000 rupees.
It came in a large box and our middle-aged maid had to carry it from the front gate to our apartment, cursing and panting, and gave me a dirty look. It weighs a ton and if by chance you are losing your hand grip like our maid, who keeps dropping our crystal stuff when dusting, and you drop it on your toe, your toe may fracture.
“It is for you, Basama,” I said enthusiastically. “This is will make your job easier, and you know my wife and I both love ‘dosa’ ”. In recipe books a ‘dosa’ is translated as a “crispy crepe”, which does not do epicurean justice to this fast-selling, Indian fast food that you see at every corner eatery in Bengaluru.
Nobody is sure how and where “dosa’ originated, but one historian says its origin is from the coastal Karnataka town of Udipi. Tamil people believe this tasty snack was being consumed in ancient Tamil country way back in 1000AD.
Desire to eat a 'thali'
This dish was definitely not brought into the country by the Turco-Mongols, and Persians, but they would surely have loved it. Many of my meat-eating friends in Dubai would suddenly say one day, “I have the desire to eat a ‘thali’.
A thali is zillions of vegetables cut into tiny pieces, tons of rice and loads of curds, and by the time you finish eating all that (from a huge stainless-steel platter) you feel drowsy and hate the idea of going back to work.
The reason for buying this “tawa” (frying pan, in English) was because a ‘dosa’ (a “fold-over with spicy sautéed onions and potatoes), costs around Canadian $10.99, and with federal and local taxes, the price goes up to $14.
If you wish to give yourself a heart attack instead of just enjoying the dosa, and you whip out your smartphone and calculate the cost in Indian rupees, it comes to Rs898, which is nearly Rs1000, minus the ‘lassi’ (sweet yoghurt drink) and extra chutney.
Not only would you be crying while emptying your wallet, but you have to be first humiliated by the staff of this “hoity-toity’ eatery in Mississauga, who want your date of birth to book a hard seat in the eatery, which is impossible to get during weekends.
Under such circumstances when you are salivating for a ‘dosa’ but do not have a reservation, you have to stand outside the eatery, like queuing in front of a soup kitchen for the homeless and the disadvantaged.
“I am a good cook and I have no intention of getting ripped off,” I told my wife, who was looking at useless stuff like carpets.
Basama informed me the pan needs to be seasoned with rock salt and raw onions before I can start cooking on it. “How will you pick it up from the stove,” she questioned me mischievously. There were no handles on this thing.
The ‘tawa’ was just one thing of the tons of stuff we are buying. Then my wife said, she should get an “idli”-maker, as the tasteless rice cakes are good for the tummies of our kids, who have destroyed their digestive systems by consuming North American fast food.
I felt like the Korean grandma in the award-winning movie, “Minari”, who brings horrible tasting things for her American grandson, who makes her promise that she will never ever bring such stuff again.
I went to a store called Big Market and bought the biggest idli-maker the shop had. The girl salesperson said it had compartments for 14 ‘idli’, and a separate dish to steam veggies.
I think we will need a 14-foot container all over again.
Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi