|Parsi poro paratha rolls and espresso in today's #finelychoppedbreakfasts|
Or so goes the popular song by John Denver, which K had introduced me to when we were dating. One of her favourite songs I believe.
It has been six months or more since I took a flight thanks to the pandemic and the lockdown. I understand that the lockdown has been relaxed now. Mainly because commerce necessitates it. The virus has not gone anywhere. Since it is not essential for us to travel, we plan to stay home for now. For those whom it is, one can only wish the best. Stay safe and maintain all precautions and assume that others aren't and make sure that you have done all you could at your end to stay protected.
I have been writing of late about how our breakfasts often bring back travel memories for me. Today's did too. That of my last set of flights out from home. I had got so disillusioned by the poor quality of flight food by then that I try to pack my food for flights when I can. The way one did for train journeys while growing up.
I try to avoid the breakfast in both the flight and the airport (latter is too expensive for a freelancer not on an expense account and where is the time for it in any case after checking in) while flying out from Mumbai. Making my own breakfast in the morning is out of the question while taking a flight. I am always racing against time, even if I never take a flight before 9.30 am as a 'matter of Finely Chopped policy'. What is the point of being a freelancer if one can't fuss around a bit?
Then I hit upon the perfect hack. I would request our cook Banu, if she has not bunked the day before my flight, to make pora the way my mother in law had taught her too and 'saadi' (as against stuffed) parathas and keep them in the fridge. Pora (plural) are Parsi omelettes which are flat, well done (unlike the soft centred French ones) and have chillies and 'house spices' in them.
I would pop these in the micro on the morning of the flight, take them out, place a poro on a paratha and roll it up Kolkata egg roll style. As a tribute to the latter, I add some ketchup and chilli sauce too.
I would munch on these while I get dressed by which time my cab is almost at the door.
I was supposed to take little Nimki for his vaccine shot today and requested Banu to make the same combo last evening for an 'on the run breakfast' today. I had to postpone the appointment though as a I woke up with a stiff back (am a lot better now with my physio coming over to work on me).
I continued with the breakfast plan though. The only difference was that I used the wok to heat the parathas and the pora as I had time in hand. That's always better than using a microwave.
K decided to skip the paratha and had her poro by itself. We had a lovely breakfast while Baby Loaf gave us company. Little Nimki had gone off to sleep. The boys were given breakfast earlier by K at 6 am when they woke her for it and then by me at 10.
Being a bilet born (expat Bengali) kid, I had taken quite a few flights till the age of 8 before we moved into India. Those stopped after my dad passed away. Flights in the 80s were in the purview of the super rich.
Flights came back into my life from '97 when I started my working career as a qualitative market researcher. Taking flights to conduct research groups across the country was a big part of my job description. We were advised to buy Strolleys (suitcases with wheels) the moment we got our appointment letter.
I moved into Mumbai soon at the start of my career and lived as a PG (paying guest) here.
I loved the experience of flights and even plane food back then. I would not have breakfast before I left for a flight as the idea was to eat on the flight. That would upset my PG aunty.
"You need to eat something before leaving. It's not auspicious to leave on an empty stomach," said the Punjabi lady in Hindi as she would push a spoon-full of sugar in my mouth.
I remembered my PG aunty often during this lockdown and wrote about the love she showered on me back in the day which made Mumbai feel like home to me. Something I came to appreciate later in life.
During a chance conversation with her son on Facebook recently, I learnt that she had passed away in April last year. The news hit me at a very personal level.
Sharing this story with you is my attempt at closure. I know that she is up there somewhere looking after us, sprinkling sugar to sweeten our lives.
PS: I would have shared the story of my breakfast just on Instagram in the past. People don't read blogs anymore, they say. Yet, I am making an effort to write these on the blog when I can. The lockdown made me start doing this again. I think it is important that blogs continue to exist as a space where we can share stories from our lives. Otherwise food stories will became a slave of commissioned articles with sensational headlines or those commissioned by brands and I feel that we will lose something in the process.
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