Monday, 14 July 2014

D and a Bullet

When we lived in Calcutta, D used to own a Royal Enfield Bullet. It was famously good-looking in a solid, black, unfussy kind of way; and as heavy as a house. But more than anything, it was a motorbike made of muscle and mind. A temperamental thing that could purr to a start on the first kick, or refuse to budge on the nineteenth. It suited us perfectly.

D had bought it a few months before we started dating, so his friends concluded that Bullets came with a steady girlfriend; a few boys in his neighbourhood offered to buy it from him. The Bullet also came with something else - a Voice. You could hear it long before it came into view. Dhhig-dhhig-dhhig. Slow, steady, loud. Like a good heart. For me, that sound came to mean many things, because it was the sound of D arriving, returning. The end of a small waiting.

One evening - a few months into our relationship, much before we were married - I was at home watching TV with Baba, when my ears picked up the sound of a Bullet entering our building complex; we lived on the fourth floor. The sound made me sit up straight, heartbeat up a notch. But then, remembering Baba next to me, I quickly feigned a relaxed posture. I stretched, and slowly got up, muttering something about fresh air. I made my way towards the balcony, adopting what I thought was a splendidly purposeless walk. I'd taken no more than five steps when--
"It's not him," Baba said, without taking his eyes off the telly.

My Baba - as sharp as the edge of a new page. There's not much you could ever sneak past him. Later that day, I learnt that someone else in the building had bought a Bullet. Damn, I thought, I didn't need the confusion. In a few days though, my ears had worked out the difference in sounds, and came to the unbiased conclusion that the sound of D's Bullet was far sweeter.

So, that's how it always was - D, me and the Bullet. It's the way our old friends remember us. Seated on it, D and I got to know each other better, we talked and laughed, argued and made up,  planned things, escaped for a few hours. D would pick me up from college after classes - that famed 'lobby' of Jadavpur University - and off we would go, without a plan. Years later, after we were married, he'd be there waiting with the Bullet next to my office to pick me up from work.

When we left Calcutta, we had to sell the Bullet. I don't have a single photograph of it - of us riding it, standing by it, near it. Not one. We didn't take many photographs in those days. I wish we had one though, just to show Chotto-ma.

Even though our Bullet found a new home, just like we did, there are a few things which haven't changed. The sound of D arriving, returning, still makes me sit up like it used to. Only now, it's not the dhhig-dhhig-dhhig of a bullet, but the slam of a car door, footsteps up the stairs. And we still find ways to escape for a few hours.




Every once in a while, we both take the day off work, drop Chotto-ma at school, and keep the day for ourselves. We did that last week. Took the day off, took a long walk, sat by the river, talked. Discovered a new street, narrow and crammed with gardens. Stopped at a pub for a drink. Ate a perfectly cooked Thai meal. We browsed our favourite bookshop. Picked a fern for Chotto-ma. Then, sat at a cafe, till it was time to pick her up from school. D read the newspaper. I wrote a little poem on a magnetic poetry board, which, having lost most of its words, stood by the cafe window gathering dust.





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I also did something else last weekend. I came up with a sublime little dessert. 'Sublime', because there is no other word for it. We had friends over, and I wanted something quick, simple. I also wanted something seasonal and cold. But: nearly no work.

I had a few ingredients at home - a pot of mascarpone, coconut milk, one lone apple and a bowl of cherries. Together, they sang. It was the stuff of sonatas, I tell you.

 .........




Stewed Apples & Cherries in a Mascarpone-Coconut Cocktail




Ingredients

2 apples, cut into small cubes
10  large cherries, pit removed and quartered
3-4 tbs mascarpone
1 1/2 cup coconut milk
1 star anise
Castor sugar
Cashew or pecan nut to top (or a sprig of mint)



Add apples, cherries, coconut milk, star anise and 1 tbsp sugar in a pan and put to heat.
Simmer gently for a minute, and fish out the star anise.
Continue to simmer till the coconut milk is all gone and the fruit is tender. It'll all be a lovely cherry colour.
Take it off the heat. Add 3 to 4 tbs-dollops of mascarpone into the warm, stewed fruit.
Add sugar to taste. Stir it all in.
Spoon it into cocktail glasses, top with a nut or a sprig of mint and refrigerate for 40 minutes to set.
Take it out 10 minutes before serving.












22 comments:

  1. written with so much love :) I wait to read more!

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    1. Much love! For the fact that you wait.

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  2. What a lovely post! Like so many others on your blog, it made me smile. The best bit is your Baba's "It's not him" line. :)

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    1. :) yes, that evening still makes me smile. Happy it made you smile too.

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  3. I laughed out loud at the line above too SRG! :D Lovely post, I wonder whether he will get another bike one day?? :)

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    1. We do talk about that sometimes, Emma!
      Post-retirement plan: turn into leather-clad, cross-country bikers.
      If that ain't ageing gracefully... :))

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  4. Beautiful post, as always! It brought back many fond memories, of my husband and me. I recognise the sound of his bike, and know when he has come home from work. I usually keep the door open for him, and he is surprised as to how I know it was him who opened our apartment gate. :) Recently, one of our neighbours has bought the same bike as the husband - and I admit it is a tad confusing. :D

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    1. Isn't it lovely to have these unspoken daily rituals? :) I love that the post brought back memories. And what I loved even more is having you share that here.

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  5. Lovely to find your blog! I'm here to stay. Love the story of the Bullet. I spent only 2 weeks in Chennai a few years ago, but did get a sense of the spirit of a bike.

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    1. How lovely to have you here, Melissa! I hope you've been well.
      Yes, I remember you mentioning Chennai; I'm sure you got a sense of much more than bikes :) The big cities in India can pack a wallop the first time around.

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  6. What a lovely story- thanks for sharing. That dessert looks truly amazing too!

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    1. Thanks Mollie, so happy you enjoyed it :) x

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  7. Beautiful post Pia ,I wait for your next post :)

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    1. *blowing kiss* for waiting :)

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  8. Pechi loved the article. Made me recall the rides I had on the Bullet. I too have memories attached to it and just remembered a few of them. One of the best and an early one was Watgunj for kosha mansho. Now I will read and catch up on a few more. Only problem is I am going to get hungry!

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    1. Jaanish, I've often thought of writing about you both and your annual trip to watgunj. Will have to shoot a kosha mangsho session just for that sometime :)

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  9. Pia, it's my first time here..read your post on Sia and was curious..good that I took the lead, enjoyed reading your post and your memories..and the bullet too..we are a bullet fan family too..hubby's got one and guess what our neighbor got a new one and we have now learnt to distinctly call out the difference in the purring..:)...

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    1. Hi Srivalli, it's lovely to have you here! You're either a bullet family or you're not, isn't it? And yes, the 'purr' - every bullet has it's own! A big, black pet :)

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  10. Oh I remember you guys and The Bullet!! happy memories Pia!!

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  11. Roli Rajawat Saraswat5 August 2014 at 03:28

    Oh I remember the bullet- you, me and Ritz outside the office... Chai n suttas;-)

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  12. You live a beautiful life, Pia. And you appreciate every moment. It makes me smile.

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Your comments make this blog worth writing. Thank you.