Oh Potty! Itís too soon for
goodbyes. I remember on my 50th birthday, it was you who
chose the verse on my cake,
"New friends I value, and
cherish their worth, But old friends to me are the salt
of the earth."
You came along with Toots and
Dorfie with the cake that afternoon. I was napping after
preparations for the party that night, when I heard you
three had arrived. So I grumpily came downstairs and
said, "What the heck, is this the time to come visiting
men?" You giggled, and Dorfie said, "Very nice, we came
all the way with a gift and youíre scolding us!"
Then I was shown the cake,
an open book, with your verse on it. Apparently, from
three corners of the earth, you all had even specified
the colour of each flower to the lady who made it. I was
so touched, it was a lovely gesture. I knew
instinctively that it was you who chose the verse on the
And now, almost four years
later, I just canít believe that youíre not here.
Reading through your old emails to us, I found one in
particular that is so poignant, because it hit me that
your beautiful Shelly will now have to call one of us to
help her along the way. Here goes.
An Adventure In Cooking
12 Noon in Chandler, Arizona.
Iím at work. Phone call from
Shelly on my mobile.
S: "Mama, I am in the grocery
store, buying stuff to cook. There are different
Me: "Buy the yellow ones."
S: "Okay. I have no time to
talk now. I am BUSY!"
(Am I staring at the walls of
the office, I wonder?)
4.30 pm. Another call.
S.: "Mama, where are you?"
Me: "I am at Lee Leeís. Why?"
S.: "Can you call me as soon
as you reach home? I want to start cooking sausage
curry, rice and parippu."
5.15 pm. I call from home.
Me: "Iím at home. Whatís up?"
S: "How many sausages should
I use for the curry?"
Me: "How many in the pack?"
(This is to gauge the size)
S: "Six, and it also says
Hillshire Farms Smoked Sausages."
Me: "Ah! Take three and cut
them into one inch pieces."
S: "What else do I need?"
Me: "Chopped onions, garlic,
curry and chilli powder, turmeric, salt and a little
( I carefully refrain from
mentioning any ingredient she does not have, or else she
will be frantic!)
S: "I want to add potatoes
Me: "Take one small potato
and cut it into small cubes."
S. "Okay. What next?"
Me: "Put a little oil in the
pan, temper the onions and garlic for two minutes. Then
add sausages, potatoes and all the powders and keep
frying for about seven minutes until it turns a nice
colour. Then add quarter cup of water and let it boil.
Later, add about five tablespoons of milk, cover the pan
and keep on the stove for another three minutes."
End of call.
A few minutes later, the
phone rings, again!
S: "Mama, I put the onions in
the oil like you said, but itís just sitting there!"
Me: "Well, increase the heat
S: " Okay. Now, DONíT DISTURB
10 minutes later, next call.
S: "Mama, you have given me
two types of seeds, am I to add those to the curry?"
Me: "What seeds? Describe
S: "One is green, like a pod,
the other is black."
Me: "Ah, cardamoms and
cloves, you silly goose!
"Yes, add one of each to the
curry. Are you cooking the parippu too?"
S: "No, I will first finish
this, I know how to make parippu!"
S: "Mama, the curry does not
have a nice colour like yours."
M: "Quick, find some tomato
ketchup and add some!"
I wait on lineÖ
S: "Aaah! Now it looks good!"
I breathe a sigh of relief.
She has mastered the Art of Cooking! Alas! My hopes are
dashed, the phone rings yet again.
S: "Mama, I have forgotten
how to make parippu. I just washed it."
Me: "I thought you said
parippu was a breeze?
"First add water, chopped
onions, garlic, salt, turmeric and boil. Finally add
S: "Now I remember!"
No more phone calls that
evening. I had to imagine how it tasted!
Rest peacefully, my friend! I
promise you we will all be there for Shelly.