This has been my kitchen for the longest time.8 years and 7 months to be precise.To be round and fair we can also say 9 years, given the few months that we had taken to close and move.
As a kid we moved houses and hence kitchens every 3-4 years. My father's job was as they said "transferable one" and we moved with the call of his duty. Since kitchen was not on the top 15 of my priorities those days it was amongst the things I missed least when we moved. I am sure my Ma had her own woeful stories about moving from large kitchens with huge windows to galley ones but of course then I never paid attention.
Now when I am the master of my own food, I can no longer say the same. I remember distinctly the huge kitchen of the 1BR apartment I shared in Mumbai, the one in Bangalore which had a separate faucet for Cauvery water, the ample kitchens in the apartments in the US where I was thrilled to find the gas stove light up without a match stick. But of all these I love my current kitchen the best; the one that has survived me for all of 9 years, well almost. When I look back and count the years on my fingers this is the longest time I have cooked at a stretch and this is the longest time that this kitchen has been there to support me.
For 9 years or 8 years and 7 months to be exact, almost every morning I have been standing at the same spot, facing west towards the back splash that D had put up, making my tea. Some mornings it is so early that that the sky outside my window is still a slate gray and I have the kitchen lights on. On others, sunlight is streaming through the large windows facing south, bathing my little kitchen in light. I am always there at the same exact spot, the frayed red rug soft and almost tattered under my feet, the saucepan bubbling on the front burner of my gas stove.
In this kitchen I can close my eyes and reach out for spices and masalas in the wooden cabinets that abound. I know each of them personally. The liners on each of these shelves were cut and arranged by a dear friend 9 years ago and they still work well. The shelves were filled with jars, pots, stacks of empty Yogurt containers exactly so with help of another and I have dared not to change the order though I have had to throw out the yogurt containers on their insistence.Psssst...secret I still have some of them.
That cabinet, the one just above the sink hold my knick knacks that I use as props for the blog, the odd plate, the scalloped bowl, the lonely table mat. The bottom cabinet, the one right of the stove has colored plastic cups, lots of them, from IKEA. Those are the ones LS uses to make a juice stand or a coffee shop.
By the window, the breakfast nook as they say, is the table, a round wood top bought 12 years ago from K-mart. One of the first piece of furniture I owned in this country. We have had umpteen meals on that table for four. We have brought in extra chairs, rubbed shoulders and sat around it even when we had more than that for company. We have cut many cakes, lighted candles, arranged gifts and served buffet lunches and dinners right there. On most days I have arranged food on it and clicked pictures for the blog. And when we have been done with food, Big Sis has finished her homework on that same table while Little Sis has scribbled and made crayon marks on its surface.
My kitchen is more than a kitchen. For almost 9 years, it is the place which has seen my daughters grow, my friends come together to rejoice happy occasions and to share the not so happy ones, my mother and my ma-in-law cook their best dishes for their granddaughters. It has seen my Baba brewing the afternoon tea and my Father-in-law chopping vegetables. It has seen the husband man packing lunches for the girls and making scrumptious breakfast on the weekend. It has seen me and him fight, make up and argue.It has seen us admonish the girls, them speaking back and then saying sorry. It has seen spartan salads, rich mutton curries laced in elaichi and zafran, simple dals bubbling in stainless steel pots, turmeric stains from fragrant Ilish jhol, brown rice, white rice, sugary gokul pithe, puffed up and the ones that refused to puff white luchi, endless days of different varieties of pasta and lots and lots of pureed, mashed baby food.And it has seen me always.
In a culture and environment ,where writing a blog, that too a food one is at the best considered a hobby, and any writing that does not come close to Marquez, Ghosh, Bibhutibhushan, Shibram or even Archer is considered frivolous; there have been times when writing up anecdotes and recipes with the hope that "someday when my daughter turns 22 will cook this " has seemed too far fetching. When I have waited for the girls to go to bed and yet again missed an episode of "Big Bang Theory" just so that I can take one more pic of Gajar Halwa, the whole process has seemed futile.
But then every time when I am back in my kitchen, trying to make even a simple Khichuri and screwing it up, I have felt the excitement, the beat of the food, the urge to blog. Even when the dish is mundane and there is nothing exemplary about the aroma, I have enjoyed the process. I have loved to put in words, the food I cook and eat. I am not really a very outgoing person but I have loved to interact with everyone, (barring the ones who want to sell me viagara), who reads this blog. I have loved writing the book as much as I love this blog.And I have realized I have stuck to this whole goddamn thing for the simple reason that I love doing it.This love.I owe it to my kitchen.
And next week I will miss my current muse. Next programming for "Bong Mom's CookBook" will be from a different kitchen in a different home . Hope the new kitchen adapts me, nurtures me, makes me her own and brings the same joy to my family and friends as this one did.
Thank You My Kitchen. You will always have a special place in my life.