Friday, 24 April 2015

The aroma of onions

This was written at end 2013.

I'm sitting at my work table, and for the last couple of days i've been thinking that there's food stored in the drawers of my table. Though there's also the niggling thought that it's actually the onions and garlic sharing space on the window ledge, level with my ear. complicated seating arrangements, right?
My husband is always unhappy about the way i keep house. I would eat something that has recently expired. He would throw it out a month before. and so on and so forth.
But with the recent spiral of onion prices, we ended up watching onion prices carefully, reminds me of my parents buying gold ornaments when i was a kid, and then going off to the wholesaler and buying two kgs of onions and potatoes. The only problem is when they start rotting.
On 24 December we went into overdrive... we were cooking mutton for the larger family and so bought 3-4 kgs of onions and another 3-4 kgs of potatoes and a kg of garlic. Half of the onions and tubers went into the mutton curry.

The cook (pure veg) likes to add potatoes in whatever vegetable she's making. It's edible only when she does. And we only keep her on because she's been able to stand me for the last five years. So, now, we're down to a couple of large potatoes from last year's batch. We still have a watermelon and a couple of apples from last year. We're both silently wondering who will peel and dice the fruits and serve it to the minions.

My husband is so worried of the waste... what if the onions rot. So he lays them down on the bedroom window ledge. This is the bedroom my mother slept in when she was alive. We have yet to move into it and the bed is now sagging under the weight of my oven,  cake mixer, their packaging, curtains that need washing, papers - his and mine, a leather folder that has some more papers etc.

A few months ago, my husband also tied a clothesline between the TV stand on one wall and the curtain rod on the opposite. His only worry seems to be that people can peep in and see that we are drying our clothes in our bedroom.

The window ledge, a very broad one, now holds a large basket with about 2 kgs of onions and a large quantity of garlic and wafting all about... a pungent smell. The smell reminds me of my early days at the Times of India.

The paste up artists would buy onions in kilos and store them in lockers next to the draft board. The smell so pungent,  some days so welcome and fragrant and, on others,  when the skinny horny artist told me to stand near him and proceeded to skewer my breasts with his elbow, tortured.

It ended one day when I was told I had to put the edition to bed early. I ran up with the layout and explained it to the artist. Ran down to work on the articles. After I'd sent it up electronically, I ran back up to check and sign off the layout.

The layout was a mess. Pasted in the wrong places,  with no resemblance to the layout. It was when he insisted on me standing next to me and poked my breast in the process that I roared that he'd pasted crap on the page and I could do it with half a brain. I was close to grabbing his collar and trying to wrestle his blade from him when the Malayali supervisor slid between us and begged me to go back to my floor and return in about 20 mins. After which I found the page beautifully made... and signed off quickly.

That night my best friend, and working at Economic Times at the time, told me I had quite likely incited a strike and that none of the paste-up guys would work with me again,  and that my useless temper had got the better of me.

Needless to say, I didn't sleep a wink that night.

I returned next day, glumly climbing the stairs to supervise the layout, and had a few guys crowding my table and chatting.

I'd become famous. And a tad popular.  And I realised I came to adore the guys upstairs.

Also breast poker became very careful thereafter.

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