The price of onions has sky-rocketed for some time now sparing the housewives of a few tears for a while. But can we do without onions for long?.So there are tears into the eyes of their respective hubbies as well for a change.
.The rupee is sliding down to abysmal levels inexorably. The finance minister assures that foreign exchange resources are going to flood-in into the country solving the problem of current account deficit and the soaring price of onions and that all will be well in a few days. He deserves a promotion, as per the management expert and the celebrated author of the Peter’s Principle
In the Punjab, girls have tied costly onion Rakhees ( wrist-bands signifying the affection of a girl towards her brother and seeking his sustained support and protection) around the wrists of their beloved brothers on the Rakshabandhan day.. The doting brothers, not to be outdone, have presented bags each of a kg or two of precious onions in return,to the delight of the sisters.
As I think of onions my mind goes back to a day sometime in the nineteen seventies.
Pappa having retired, he and mamma came to stay with us. My younger siblings too were also with us.
Mamma says, “We need to tell the milk-vendor to get us only three bottles. ( It was bolttles with shiny aluminium caps hatched with blue or red daiagonal stripes, those days, not the plastic satchets of today).’m I find that the milk and yoghurt are piling up in. the fridge.”
“That is not a right solution. We need to increase our intake of milk and yoghurt to keep healthy. By the way why don’t you prepare curd chutney (perugu patchadi) with the left over curds and payasam (sweet milk-porridge with cashews, raisins and elaichi thrown in for good measure), with the milk.”
I soon find myself at the street-corner ration shop to get onions and cashew nuts, the stock of which was nil at that moment in our larder.
The shopkeeper is busy doling out kerosene that he received just then from the civil supplies godown, to the ration card holders.There was a big queue of jostling kerosene-seekers. I turn aside and go a few paces to go to a departmental stores which was quite some distance away.
Srinivas, the ration shop keeper, calls out to me, ” Sir, Please wait. I’ll be free in a minute.”
I reluctantly trudge back towards the store.
Srinivas wipes his hands on a rag, washes his hands, and then weighs out the onions and cashews to me.
The payasam and perugu patchadi are soon ready. I’m the first to taste them.
“How are they?”, mamma looks at me eagerly.
“Fine. Delicious.”, I say.
Mom looks at my face seriously and invites the missus to taste it.
“Fine. Delicious.”, the missus exults politely. Ever the faithful spouse, I’m proud of her.
It is the turn of my younger siblings to taste soon.
All politely agree that it is fine and delicious.
Pappa is the last to taste it. He says, “Yes, it’s fine. It’s delicious. But there is a faint aroma of kerosene in there. No matter. It is volatile. The sun is creeping into the kitchen. Keep the utensils in the sun-light to allow the flavour to evaporate and escape.”
When I was younger, I read a Russian book in English entitled, ‘ Physics in everyday life.’, by one Yakov Perelmann, which among many interesting and engrossing things relating to Physics, had a hilarious story of, a spill of kerosene in the engine room of a ship on the high seas , and the invasive and pervasive nature of kerosens and the travails of the travellers.The book was translated into Telugu, beautifully by Kodavatganti Kutumba Rao, as ‘ Nitya jeevithamlo bhowtica sastram.’. I would very much love, if I can get a copy of the book again in English or Telugu