Ten long years have drifted away since Devdas Mukherjee left the shores of his motherland for England. Today he is returning home after a brief stint at Oxford University. His childhood playmate Parvati is thrilled to hear of his return; finally he will set eyes on the beautiful flower she has blossomed into. Her mother, Shumitra, with her long hair shining in excitement, gazes out the window. Says she, “Methinks I will get Paro and Deva married pronto! Shotti!(Really!)” 

Paro, hearing this, lowers her eyes in shyness, her lashes flickering with pleasure. 

At Zamindar Narayan Mukherjee’s house, Devdas’s mother Kaushalya awaits the arrival of her beloved son, her arms growing tired holding up the stainless steel puja thali. But no! He has gone to Paro’s house first! To steal a glance at the stained-glass windows that adorn her house! “Sacrilege!” she screams, and flings the puja thali in despair. 

Meanwhile, Devdas taps the large brass handle on the door to Paro’s house. Unknown to him, Paro runs from one wing of the house to another, flinging open doors as she flutters past. She drapes a white sheet and twirls around her bedroom. She sways onto the bed, her cheeks caressing the quilt. 

Shumitra opens the door to Devdas. All the passion of a young lover flows from him. He seeks to embrace Paro. But how can he, when a fly is infesting the air with its pestilential presence, and trying to sit on her skin? He takes Paro to task. 

“Paro, I like not those other living things that try to touch you”, says he ardently. 

Ish! Go then, for I will show my face only when the moon comes!” says Paro. 

Shumitra hears this exchange, and vows, “Tonight I will ask Kaushalya and seal this love between Devdas and Paro. Ish! But before that I must perform the dance of death, so that Kaushalya will just not be able to refuse!” 

That night, after pirouetting around the Mukherjee’s Mahal fifteen times, when only Kaushalya is left alive and standing, Shumitra proposes the marriage of Devdas and Paro. Kaushalya, for the second time, flings a thali. “Never! Never will my Deva be married off in a household that has less stained-glass than us!” 

Shumitra is stupefied, her great teeth are quivering in anger, but gathering her senses, she retorts, “Catastrophe! Cataclysm! Kaushalya, you know not what you say. But I vow to you, that in seven days from now, I will get Paro married into a much richer household, that has not stained-glass, no, but Saint Gobain Glass. Ha!”

That was the spoof. Now enjoy a snippet of the original:


Adventures in Italian Cooking

On Christmas Day last year, my friend J and her husband M invited us to lunch at their house.

Among the many presents she gave me, one of them was this:

The Complete Italian Cookbook by Tarla Dalal

 As stated in my year-end blogpost, I had attempted to prepare a lasagna a couple of times last year. That in addition to my tendency to whip up some simple pasta dish whenever I felt the mood led her to believe other Italian recipes would interest me too. 

And she was right. Over the next few weeks, I ticked off one recipe after another from the table of contents.

I started off with some bruschettas which turned out pretty good, but I don’t pictures of those so I will present to you instead, Roasted Bell Pepper Crostinis!

Disclaimer: No family members, friends or distant relatives were harmed by the consumption of the following dishes.

Roasted Bell Pepper Crostini

I played safe and stuck to the simple pastas mostly, which included this colourful preparation:

Fusili with Spring Onions, Corn and Red Pepper

By this point, I had gained enough confidence to try out some soups:

Broccoli soup

And then some salads:

Neapolitan Potato Salad

Most of the required ingredients were readily available at the friendly neighbourhood grocery store. For a few imgredients like fresh basil and parsley leaves, I had to pay a visit to Dorabjee’s.

I am pleased to report that I have swept through 22 of the 87 recipes listed in the book. Not bad, but for the rest of the year my progress will run at a glacial speed, due to work reasons.

How about you? How are you doing with your annual goals list?