Passer a la casserole, a culinary delight

Content advisory: strong language and sexual content, even if it’s mostly between the lines! You have to be 18+ to see this material.
                                                London was where I made my first serious foray into cooking. Eating out in the city was an expensive proposition. So as with most bachelors from the sub continent, I had to bow before the might of the British pound and enter the kitchen. But it was truly love at first smell and sound for me. I loved the scent of spices, the steaming aroma of freshly cooked basmati rice, the crackling of mustard seeds and the sound of hissing oil when chillies and tomatoes were fried. Contrary to what I was told before leaving India, there was a mind boggling variety of vegetables and fruits in the supermarkets. So I experimented a lot, stepping out of the safety of the cook book and thoroughly enjoyed cooking. I would prepare a  huge portion of sabji (vegetable cooked in gravy) and leave it in the fridge with a note for my house-mates asking them to taste and rate it. As the months passed, the ratings improved along with my confidence.

 However, this was a time of great personal crisis for me. I was trying hard, very hard, to get laid. Imagine a 25 year old Indian guy fresh off the boat in one of the most cosmopolitan cities of the world exposed to endless number of beautiful women wherever he goes. Yet all he can do is dribble and watch. My friend Eric came to the rescue. A seasoned hand at all things feminine, the first thing he asked me to do was shave my moustache off.

“What?  Are you out of your senses? This is equivalent to castration for a Malayali guy” I thundered. But no amount of thundering or pleading could move Eric.

 Eric vowed to teach me the secrets of seduction only if I cleaned up my upper lip. He claimed guys in the West who wore a moustache were mostly part of the gay scene, convincing me that just getting rid of the stache was half the job done.

Maybe it was just a coincidence but as soon as I trashed the stache I began to score with the ladies. It was around this time that I met Audrey (pronounced Odd Ray!) at a house party. She had just landed in London from Paris for a 3 months’ work holiday vacation. We hit it off immediately and she confided that the reason behind the trip was that she had just broken up with her boy friend and wanted a change of scenery. Her French accent and bubbly extrovert nature was a huge turn on for me.

I woke up in heaven with a smirk plastered on my face after our first night together. What are the chances of a Mallu guy sleeping with a French chick who had pouting lips and sleepy ‘I’m ready for a fuck now’ eyes? Overflowing with gratitude, I decided to pamper her. So I made breakfast (not idly sambar !) and surprised her in bed. Her reaction caught me unawares. She was genuinely surprised and then started silently crying. Later, she told me that nobody had done that for her. How much it meant to her was revealed shortly when she smashed me in an intense love making session that lasted till late afternoon by which time we were both drained.

Nevertheless I got up and somehow managed to ‘cook a curry’, as the Brits would say. We ravenously ate. I was planning to sleep it off but Audrey had different plans for the rest of the day. I soon learned why the world regards the French as the greatest lovers on the planet.

The sex was always great but soon it became obvious to me that the quality was extra terrestrial on the days I cooked or surprised her in bed (with food you dirty perverts!). She would often come to watch me cook up a storm, much to the amusement of my housemates. Ha, I can still see her standing by the kitchen door wearing just her black over sized T shirt and little else. I never made conversation while I cooked but I would glance at her every now and then. Sometimes she would come and stand just beside me, not making contact yet touching me inside out. The rich smell of Indian spices mingled with the smell of her sweat and sex. Many times I have seriously contemplated fucking her there in the warm kitchen that smelled of India.Tandoori naan with Paneer Butter masala and Audrey on the side, I would fantasize.

Audrey was a man magnet. When we went out to pubs, clubs or even the park she would have guys eating out of her hands. They would stare at her , smile at her, and even sometimes flirt outrageously. Of course she was dazzlingly beautiful, but that was not uncommon in London. She had something else, the oomph factor, that made her irresistible. She was perfectly at ease handling her admirers and that’s what probably never made me jealous or possessive about her. Besides I knew what turned her on, good Indian food made with lots of love ! We cooked and made love with the same intensity. There was a playfulness to the whole affair so even if something got burned in the oven or in the bedroom we would laugh it off.

As the days passed she started imitating me and  eating with her hands. She would be completely lost in it, licking her fingers dry but sometimes she would look up at me and smile seductively. I couldn't wait for dinner to be over...

We cooked, dined and fucked our way through the 3 months. Time had no meaning and it was over before it began.. She took me out on our last night to a very expensive restaurant on top of a skyscraper in the city from where you could see the entire London nights-cape. We ate our full and languished in the cushioned comfort of our chairs. The food was great but I missed seeing her eat with her hands relishing my food. The dinner felt flat that way and I was feeling down. She sensed my mood when she said “It’s low on spice” and winked.As we took the tube back to my place, she discussed her future plans in Paris, on continuing her education and getting together with family again.

It was our last night together and we hugged each other tight. I woke up at the break of dawn. Audrey was all curled up facing the huge bay windows enticing me with her bewitching bottom. Why was I not feeling sad that she was leaving? Years later I would realize that it was because of the intensity and fullness with which we lived our days that left no trace of regret or sadness as its residue. We were happy to let it all end there, not even to stay in touch.

Strange, I thought, yesterday was the only day when we were in bed and not had sex. I stretched and went for a run around the block. By the time I came back and showered, Audrey was up.

She came and kissed me long and full on the mouth.

‘Do you know what was unique about yesterday?’ she whispered almost french kissing my ears.

'What ?', I got hard just thinking about how our last faire des galipettes was going to be.

‘Yesterday was the only day that you didn't cook for me!’

The Vagabond situation

"So what do you do?"

 I travel full time...

"No, No what is your PROFESSION ? What do you do for a LIVING?"

Well all I do pretty much is  travel ... 

"Ok Ok who do you travel with ? A bunch of friends?"


"Do you mean to say that you travel alone?" , eyeing me up as if I might be a potential rapist or axe murderer.

After digesting that information comes another beauty.

"But you CAN'T travel full time!", as if I've just defied the laws of gravity.

Oops, I forgot again, full time travel/enjoying life to the hilt/doing what you really want to do is against the Indian law !

This is a conversation I have every day when I travel in India. 3 times a day at the very least !!! Yes folks,  like a bitter pill to be taken after every meal ! Travelling full time is considered by some in this country as worse than being a drunkard, philanderer, and adulterer all rolled into one. A thousand times worse! A good friend asked me the question recently, ‘Why bother? Is it really worth the sneers, criticisms and free advice that you have to hear on a daily basis?' Yes, my friend it is… and then some :)

I’m chilling out right now in a city Mark Twain once famously described as older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together ! My temporary abode is  a hostel frequented by the odd mix of backpackers, college kids, vagabonds ,etc. The critic Arthur Compton-Rickett defined vagabonds as men "with a vagrant strain in the blood, a natural inquisitiveness about the world beyond their doors."

In the hostel I've had conversations with the well educated, ‘well settled’ young Indians who are kind of a little bit in awe, in envy of the vagabond situation. This is something new for me, adulation from my own countrymen! For many of them, especially the affluent guys, it’s an attainable dream to travel for an extended period since they can afford it, yet the time factor plays spoilsport. I met quite a few students from Mumbai in the hostel who stopped short of waving aarti to me for doing what I do. At least some of them found the vagabond situation incredibly cool.

To walk away from the crowd...

So you have guys who despise you, who think that you should be put behind bars or at the very least be committed in a lunatic asylum. Then there are others who think that you are Mr. Cool living ‘the life’ with no responsibilities no deadlines, no work…

The truth lies somewhere in between. Travelling alone, living alone, sleeping alone, takes some getting used to for most people. You have to be your own best friend, love your company and be able to laugh at your own jokes since often there won’t be people around to laugh at them. I've always been an introvert and am OK with this. Yet there are days, I have to admit, that you feel the need for a little companionship just like the guy in the city sometimes wishes for solitude.

I’m not doing this as a rebellion, as a statement against the system or anything. It’s because I love nature, travelling to unseen places and meeting people (once in a while !). I learn from my travels just like you learn stuff at work (or at least you're supposed to !) and for me its fun! I try to be not too bothered when the shit hits the fan as it often does, when things don’t work out even remotely as you planned them.

With a companion on the way

 I started travelling when I realized that my life was going to be short. Not just mine but yours as well. We will all be gone in a blip. Why work my ass off and save money I will never use ? Why to buy a house and pay mortgage for the rest of my life? Why live in a polluted city whne the mountains constantly beckon? Why ? Why ? Why ? I thought hard about these things,  found the answers and hence I decided to hit the road, to do what I thought was important. 

If you think that being in the corporate world and working your ass off is your thing and that you would do it even if you got paid zilch, I’d say go for it full steam ahead. That’s a good test. If money was no concern would you still be doing the thing you’re doing now ? If maintaining status and facing uncomfortable questions were no longer an issue would you still be doing the thing you’re doing now? Maybe if you really think about it,sweeping the road is your passion but you're afraid to do it because people may ridicule you. I thought about all these and more for quite some time before I decided to take the leap… 

So as S and a lot of others have been asking what the hell do I do the whole day? It may surprise many of you that I get up quite early for yoga and a bit of meditation. I read for sometime then maybe head out for local explorations. So its not about sleeping late and just lying around in a hammock all day ok? Everything is done because I love doing it. 

But I do chill! The wise call it laziness. I don’t feel the need to compulsively work just because 99% of homo sapiens believe so. I’m not living off my parent’s money or anything earned through the hawala route. It’s all been earned by the sweat of my brow (not literally of course!). Work is not just something you do for money. Well, if you look at things that way, getting your ass off bed in the morning is work. Cooking and cleaning is work. Meditation is work. The hardest work is to just sit still, be content in not doing anything, allowing the world to just be as it is…that way I'm a workaholic.