I’ve been following the TV series ‘Masterchef Autralia’ and I so love it! Infact, I remember, I used to follow a show called ‘Nigella Feasts’ by Nigella Lawson some years ago, before the cable service turned into the DTH service and my favourite channels went missing on our cable. I rarely see TV ever since that happened. Anyway, I watch ‘Masterchef Australia’ for the sheer beauty that those chefs impart to their cooking.
I see it for those various food items that I’d like to savour. Right from beef to chicken to snails to squids to salmon to granitas to meringue pies to crabs to sautéed vegetables to chocolate mousse to heaven knows what! Infact, there is a common thread between George in Masterchef and Nigella in her show – they add life to everything they cook. Everything! There’s so much of colour and enthusiasm that it makes you wish you could do it too. And the next place you want to be after the show is done is in the kitchen! Right from using ‘just enough’ olive oil to the perfect colour of sautéed vegetables they know how to tingle your taste buds by being in a completely different part of the world as you! So, yesterday, I was pumped up about the whole aspect of learning how to cook right and I wished I could try my hand at it too. Like most other wishes, it came true. My mom had to go out and I had to cook dinner for the rest of us! All pumped up with energy and eager to make my dish right I walked into the kitchen, after I think, 3 years! And then wham I went! Adding more chilli powder than necessary and spoiling an almost perfect dish. Had it not been for that extra chilli powder I had got it right! And, with the dinner plates I washed away my tears of being such a dismal failure at cooking (the tears are a hyperbole.) But I didn’t wash away hope. I am going back into the kitchen and getting my cooking right from now on. I know I can do it. Atleast 3 years ago, I could!
So here I am, 23 years old, (yeah big deal if I disclose my age. Age is only a number after all) and beginning to look at being a girl in a completely different light. (I can’t believe I’m saying this!) I mean, I’ve never thought of all this when I was young. Who cares about draping a saree when you roam around in shorts and your main aim in life is to decrease your 100m timing? Who cares about adding just enough salt (in my case chilli powder) to your dish when you are busy getting your essays right? Who cares about walking into a parlour and asking for your hair to be cut into layers when all you knew was a boy cut when you were young? Who cares about buying nail polish so that your feet look good in heels when you’ve worn sports shoes most of the time? And who cares about your top having the right ‘cut’ when you’ve worn tees for most of your life?
These days I am trying to grapple with all these new things that I am noticing about being a woman. And now I find myself wondering – what is wrong with trying to go shopping to look for the right shade of lipstick? (If you know me closely, don’t fall off your chair.) Why just lipstick? I am beginning to look at all these women I know who are out there doing it all. Trying to juggle work life with domestic life. Trying to get the right saree drape and the right numbers in their excel sheets. Trying to get the right mutter paneer for their husbands as well as being in time to catch the 7.59a.m. local. Trying to get their eyebrows shaped right and make sure their child has the homework complete. Phew! That’s a lot! And it’s a lot because I know how disgusting it feels when you ruin an almost perfect dish and then have to serve it to your family. If it’s ‘your’ family then it’s ok, because your dad will tell you, “You don’t have to learn to cook because you’re a girl. That’s not the right reason to learn to cook. You must learn because it is an art and because it will help you in you life. At least you can cook for yourself.” And then you have you mom telling you, “It’s done right just that add ‘this’ much chilli powder next time.” Then you have your beloved sister covering up saying, “Too many cooks spoil the broth.” But, what would have happened had I have had to serve this to my in-laws? Goodness, can you imagine my horror? (If you’re a girl you will understand.) Especially, if you’ve seen how difficult it is to walk into a family and make a place for yourself. When you have had some married women telling you, very recently, how much of a compromise marriage is for a woman. When you have seen women give up their careers so that their in-laws accept them into their houses. When you are told that a woman needs to live beneath a man by someone your own age! When you’ve heard of girls not getting married because the dowry demands are not met. Dowry? You ask yourself. Which freaking century do people live in? And you are told it still happens! Wow! That’s a lot for being a woman, isn’t it? I’m not saying a man’s life is easy. It wouldn’t be because life itself is not easy! But I can tell you a woman’s life is difficult. More than ever, if you want to be a woman who wants to achieve the perfect balance in life and doesn’t want to compromise on all those beliefs that you’ve held for so long.
I am willing to learn how to cook well. I am willing to learn how to drape a saree perfectly. I am willing to keep a house spic and span at all times. I am willing to go find out what colour lipstick will look good on me. I am willing to wake up at 5 a.m. to make chapattis. But, I’m not willing to sacrifice myself to be a woman who is acceptable only because she sacrificed herself to fit in somewhere. God knows I can’t do that!