Some say they will not celebrate Eid this year…. Reasons?
Well, that is their prerogative. I did give the notion some thought. What is the point? I have but one life. Which might end any moment. I sympathise with and would like to help all the above people in some way. I am even trying to do my bit wherever possible.
Moreover, the people in the above pictures’ themselves must be trying hard to celebrate life’s small joys, in times of extreme suffering and hardship…. Humans are like that…Resilient. Indomitable.
Also, strip religion and faith out of the picture. Human suffering should not be looked through lenses colored by those divisive factors.
I don’t care about the faith or God of the sufferer, honestly don’t – does that make me a heretic?
Last Eid was spent in the throes of nausea and morning sickness, the Eid before was amidst dissertation madness, the one before that I was posted in the ER (emergency room!) and the year before THAT I spent Eid in the wards whilst on a marathon 48 hour duty!
A common denominator in all those days – I was away from my family. No festivities, no wearing fancy new outfits, no family shindigs, no shenanigans, no Mum’s Biriyani…. No Eid, basically.
I wanted to make the best of this one though…
Remember … My motto is “to live the moment”….
I did not have any clear plans as to what I would do come Eid day. But I was sure to not spend endless hours labouring over the stove making “Dum Biriyani” like Mum traditionally does. I wanted to eat out, chill, relax….
This leads us to the quote I posted yesterday….
“All human plans [are] subject to ruthless revision by Nature, or Fate, or whatever one preferred to call the powers behind the Universe.”
― Arthur C. Clarke, 2010: Odyssey Two
Let us look at what actually transpired in the H household in the past 36 hours or so…
J and Mr H break their fasts. They have an uncommonly heavy iftar. Eat loads of fried food, pastries,,,,labeneh stufffed fatayer…. juice… fruit salad with custard…
They kind of given in…thinking this would probably be the last Iftar for the year.
J is comatose. The food she downed at iftar drags her into a state of food- drugged stupor.
Mr H tries to awaken J from her slumber. He yells. He shakes. She tries her hardest to re-join the world of the conscious. She almost succeeds.
It’s Eid tomorrow, he says. Ahaan, she says. And her eyes roll over and she’s out again.
Lil Z is furious. She is hungry and is letting everyone know she is by screaming her head off. J has no choice but to get up and get down to business.
Meanwhile, Mr H asks her what they should do for Eid tomorrow. (J wants nothing but to sleep and maybe order a biryani from her favourite restaurant.)
Mr H wants to invite his colleagues over. It’s his first Eid in six years’ as a ‘family man”. J’s lil Bro (Nu) is also in town. Mr H tries to convince J by saying that she need not make anything elaborate. All he asks for is some ghee rice and mutton curry. Maybe some fried chicken as well, if J feels up to it.
Of course it’s J’s choice entirely. No pressure. Perfectly fine if she does not feel up to it. After all, most other young Mums they know also find it hard to get anything done with an infant in tow….
Hmmm… J mulls over the suggestion.
Is this a cleverly veiled challenge?
The high glucose state that she is in clouds J’s judgement. She impulsively, with no thought or consideration falls into the craftily laid snare, Says, Why not make Biryani itself?
Afterall she comes from a long line of expert ‘Thalassery Biryani’ maestros….
Mr H is inwardly smug. Perfect execution of a simple but well- thought out plan.
The shopping list is ready. Mr H and Nu head to the mall. J stays back to do some prepping.
The shoppers reach home; with a huge pile of stuff. By the time, J has had time to ruminate. She wonders if it is all a very daft endeavour…
Cooking for so many people! With no help. With no suitable vessels. With Lil Z. With so little time on hand. With absolutely no planning….
It all seemed very noble, very ambitious and VERY STUPID!
J regrets falling for it. Damn you, smart and wily, amiable Mr H.
Technically Eid day has arrived. Five hours to Eid prayers. About 12 hours to lunch.
The J kitchen resembles a gastronomic war zone. Vessels strewn everywhere. Dry fruits being beaten up. A custard thickening. Atleast, three types of rice soaking….
Mr H battling still- frozen chicken wings. Nu weeping uncontrollably as he chops up a mountain of onions. J furiously stirring milk for the “kheer/ payasam” whilst backseat driving both Mr H and Nu.
More than 4 kilos of meat lay forlon in the sink. 2 kilos or fresh, succulent mutton all ready to be converted to a heavenly biryani. And two frozen chicken thawing away to glory.
And just then, Lil’ Z decides to join the party. She wails from the bedroom. J, Mr H and Nu all look at each other. Mental tug o’ war of “you go” ensues. Mr H surrenders. Leaves the kitchen to deal with the screaming baby.
Lil Z refuses to go back to sleep. So the team is now one player short. One player has to be relegated to Zoe duty.
There is still so much to be done. The biryani masala is no where close to being ready. The chicken is still thawing.
The payasam needs more milk and adjustment. The fruits need to be cut for the custard. The mutton curry hasn’t even got going….
The whole house is a cacophony of cooker whistles, knives hitting chopping boards, water running in the sink and Lil Z crying…
Like always J has bitten off more than she can chew. And this time she cannot spit it out either!
The invitations have been sent, the promises made…. Reputations are at stake.
Lil Z shows no sign of surrender. She has decided to make her first Eid well and truly memorable.
But the H household has slowly gotten into the groove of things….
The three adults have gotten into an unspoken rhythm of working and managing Zoe at the same time. They decide to include her in the fun… She obliges…Sitting and keenly observing all the craziness that is going on in the middle of the night… All the while cooing and showering the adults with unlimited, uninhibited, full mouthed, toothless, mind- blowing smiles!
Dishes slowly start to take shape. The rice payasam is perfect. The custard is almost set.
Both burners are on high with cookers containing meat. One for the biryani and one for the curry….
The chicken marinade is ready…. For the fry…
All the chopping is almost done….
Barring minor hitches (like one pressure- cooker leaking steam and the masala being too spicy), matters progress fairly smoothly.,.
The next big challenge is dealing with the enormous cumulation of dirty dishes. Nu volunteers (bless his heart!) to wash them and dives headlong into the task….
J is putting some finishing touches on the curry and the masala. The dirty dishes are sorted. The kitchen looks habitable again.
All that’s left to do is cooking the rice, frying the chicken and getting the “dum- biriyani’ together… All to be done in the morning…
The adults sip some well- earned tea. Everyone’s showered and fragrant. Crisp, new garments on. The guys leave for prayers ….
Lil Z is tired but is still valiantly battling sleep. Must give credit to her for somehow managing to stay awake the entire night!
Lil Z finally surrenders. Sleep emerges triumphant. Finally, J can catch some shut- eye. It has been one hell of a night! AAh! The sweet sleep that accompanies hard toil is especial and ineffable!
The family emerges from a brief but invigorating catnap. J whips up some flour crepes for breakfast. With that out of the way…It is time to get back to business…
Since the beginning of this particular adventure, one thought kept nagging J. She did not have a big enough vessel/ pot to get the biriyani together in. She check all her pots. Sadly none fit the bill..
A couple of blame-games and arguments later, Mr H and J decide they DEFINITELY NEED a new biriyani vessel/ pot.
At this point, please remember- It’s Eid day, and the H family live in the middle- east. Wonder where they’d find a store that is open and will sell a biryani- pot!
Worst case scenario- Mr H will have to buy lunch for the invited guests if they can’t find one…
Mr H works his miracle. Yet again. Finds the perfect biriyani- pot. Large, wide- mouthed, thick- bottomed with a well- fitted lid.
Among the chaos, an important event has just occurred. The H family buys their first and very own biryani pan/pot/vessel. It’s a rite of passage…. For a family. Like buying a car, or a house…or land. It’s a step up in family-dom.
The Biriyani has been assembled. The magic is slowly being conjured in the pot over the stove. Even the dough lining has been applied to the lid. The biryani process cannot get any more authentic than this (maybe cooking over an open fire with logs would do so).
The curd salad is prepped. The chicken is being fried. The mutton curry is all set. The “BEBSI” is chilling.
The table’s set. The guests arrive………
Sorry… No more twists in this tale! The biryani turned out perfect. The rice was perfectly cooked. The mutton succulent and spiced perfectly. The masala to rice proportion adequate….
No complaints from the fried chicken either….
In short, the remainder of the day progressed without any major kinks and twists…
The H family accomplished what it set out out to do….
Lil Z had a fantastic first Eid…
Folks, it’s almost dawn again! The author really needs to get some sleep. Hope you enjoyed reading another edition of the H family adventures. They had a very nice Eid indeed! A long overdue one at that…
How did you folks celebrate? Any interesting stories to recount? Any biriyani incidents?
Please do share them below…
Till next time….
“A family that cooks biryani together stays together”
P.S. Eid Mubarak to all my lovely people back in India and to all those who will be celebrating it today!
Kindly excuse the lack of pictures (and their poor quality!). It was last thing on J’s mind, amidst all the hurry and chaos. Will think of you guys, next time 🙂