Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pohe, Upme and the peoples

I had yet another interview yesterday. Shifted lock, stock, padukkai and paathram for the 8th time in the last twelve years in Mumbai and thus yet another hunt for the cook and the bai (domestic help) .

The Maharashtrian cooks always come as Koundamani-Senthil.. in pairs, for interviews. One is your prospective cook and the other, her friend who comes as oppukku chappani for moral support.

The interview with the cook is more boring than your Corporate "..So.... tell me about yourself" interview with your prospective employer.

After the first few questions like "What's your name?" "Where do you stay?" etc. comes the maha boring bit when you ask them questions on their culinary skills (if at all they have one)

Me : "Kya kya pakate ho?" (What all do you cook?)

Cook : POHE, UPME... (Poha = Aval, Upma...)

Me : Aur... (And...)

Cook : POHE, UPME...Aap batao naa (Aval, upma... so you tell me what your preferences are..)

Me : Hum Soueeeth Indian hai... toh aapko kya aatha hai Soueeeth Indian main? (We are South Indians... what South Indian stuff do you cook?)

Cook : POHE, UPME... er... aur aap bolo jo bhi hai (Aval, upma... and whatever you say)

I tell you, nothing can be more irritating than listening to tenji-poana record saying POHE, UPME... again and again.

Cooks in Mumbai are not your traditional (good ) cooks like our Gomathy mamis and pattu maamis who are all -in-all anantharaamis in preparing Vadai-payasam samayal for the entire family. The 'Pohe Upme' ones in Mumbai are housewives who have decided to make a quick buck with their Pohe, Upme and minji minji poana Dal , roti and one curry which is usually potato. Almost all curry items will have onion added. Your vendakkai, kathrikkai , beetroot and any known/ unknown veggie will be cooked with lots of onions and will taste similar.

These cooks are usually olli-picchaans between 20 and 40 with a neat dress sense. They are clean and you won't find them eeshifying their saandhu pottu on your kitchen laminate along with their sweat. They usually work in atleast five houses managing the kitchen. Some even do the dishes, wash clothes etc for an extra sum.

Some seven years ago, it was my anbu maamiyar's suggestion to hire one number cook when I vadichyfyed my first parukkai of saadam . Cook No.1 was hired. I don't remember her name and we shifted out of the apartment in less than 3 months. Cook No.2 was a golt called Lakshmi. Golt by birth and Mumbaikar by cook. We shifted again and Cook No.3 Sulochana was hired in the new house. Sulochana managed to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner in the mini gas stove of ours in less than an hour... and that was the problem. Zip , zap , zoom and she was out.

Cook No.4's Dal was Tuvaram paruppu pressure cooked and salt added. That was it. We asked her again and again if that was how she prepared Dal or if she had forgotten to add 'tadka' of red chillies etc. For dal meant cooking tuvaram paruppu and adding salt. It was tata bye bye to # 4 in fifteen days. Cook No.5 thought she was a celebrity only 'coz she worked in an ondrai-aana TV celebrity's* house. She reported to work at 5.45 am and had to... had to leave our place at 7 am 'coz Kiran Karmakar's* ara-looseu Punju wife would scream at her if she reported late for work.
No.6 was Ganga who worked with us for more than two years and became quite an expert in Rasam, Vazhapoo paruppusili, Sambar and the works. Ganga took great pride in the fact that she 'love-d' and got married and greater pride in the fact that she didn't care for her lover turned purusan coz he didn't quite like her family. I had to .. had to fight with her atleast thrice a week 'coz pal would often report late...and come up with some weird excuses including "Alarm off hogaya" "Sar-dard" etc. and poor the purusan of mine had to eat breakfast cooked by yours un-cookingly me. Despite all the shandais, Ganga stuck with us for quite a long time and actually said that she'd miss us when we shifted .... only 'coz we were the only ones who gave the salary on time.

The hunt for Cook No.7 is on now... At the rate in which its going, I get a feeling that the ezhaam number is yours uncookingly me with all bright chances of becoming an ezhara naatu sani for whoever eats my samayal.

13 Responses:

The Practical Idealist said...

The ending lines were rip-roaring hilarious!

The Practical Idealist said...

And well, good luck with your 'yezhaavadhu samayalkaari' (remember yezhaavadhu manidhan?)

maxdavinci said...

haha, all I can say is good luck jee...

Aparna said...

Hahaha... Good luck!

Extra-Ordinarily Ordinary said...

What an experience. But I guess yours cookingly is left to make ONLY tea and venneer. :P

Good luck with 007.

RAJI MUTHUKRISHNAN said...

Happy to read you after a while. Good luck with the cook-hunting.

ssstoryteller said...

Besh Besh Romba nalla irukke!!

Maddy said...

ondrai-aana TV celebrity's* photo paartha.....ungalukku message solra mathiri thaan irukku.

Photo 1 : Take care-nnu Warning!
Photo 2 : Naan sonnen ille!
Photo 3 : Poye pochu!! Poyinthaa? She is gone auh??
Photo 4 : oru thadavai sonna nooru thadavai sonna mathiri.

So, unga oorla romba demand ulla velai ennannu therichiduchi!!

anyways,enneramum uyirai kaiyila vatchikittu irukkira antha parithaba patta jeevankalukku ennoda praarthanaigal.

umm oviya said...

omg, book a daily dabba service before b reports you to nhrc

ambi said...

LOL :))

8 varusham aanalum neenga unga samayal standarda maintain panreenga paarunga, anga thaan blog akka nikkaraanga! :))

Coconut Chutney said...

Lol! rombave paavam neenga! All the best :)

vaishnavi said...

Lol this is my first time here, nice blog you've got! Good luck with NO.7 I hope you have better luck than my mom has had....lol...28 years and almost double the number of cooks :)

Aparna said...

So whats the update on Cook No. 7 ... ???