Sunlight was fingering its way through the venetian blinds as P walked softly and noiselessly into the kitchen. The morning was chilly and he did not want to wake up his guest who had arrived from India very early in the morning. P wanted to have breakfast ready by the time his friend woke up refreshed after the tiring journey from overseas. He had already decided what he was going to make for breakfast and it was …………………… French toast!
P considered himself an expert at making French toast. This morning, he was slowly humming to himself as he broke the eggs into the bowl and beat them up nicely before adding some milk, the tiniest pinch of salt and two tablespoons of sugar. P liked his French toast sweet….and evenly toasted on both sides.
He was still humming when he dipped the slices of bread in the egg-milk mixture and spread them on the heated and buttered pan on the stove. After a minute or two, just as he turned the slices over to their other side, he suddenly remembered the conversation he had had with his friend on the drive home from the airport… His friend had then said that he was so tired of all the bland food on the plane and was longing to eat something spicy. P was thrown into a panic now; he did not have any batter for dosas or idlis and he had no frozen, spicy sambar either. Moreover, the French toasts were all nearly made and he did not want them to go waste. Being an obliging host as always, P started wracking his brains on how to salvage the situation…
Breakfast was soon served. P had stuck to plain French toast for himself but had prepared a special breakfast for his friend. Seated at the table, P’s friend took a large, hungry bite. Soon he was choking and turning red. He had to drink a lot of water before he found his voice to ask P what that was that he had just eaten.
Ever glad to share his recipes, P said, “That’s a long story. Let me start at the very beginning. ……………
It was a chilly morning in Gaul, thousands of years ago. P had come back after a walk in the forest, collecting snails for a special lunch for his guest. He had gone out early in the morning to gather them before the sun came out and sent them scrambling into crevices and hollows to hide. Going out early in the morning meant that he did not have a chance to eat breakfast and now that he was hungry and was back home, he decided to get something to eat. He brought out the bread from a stone container and held it to his nose. Definitely it was past its use by date, stale and had to be thrown out.
He swore loudly in Gallic. Now, have you heard somebody swear in Gallic? It’s supposed to wrack the strongest nerves. No wonder then that the cat, that was slowly sneaking in to sip the milk, took fright and dashed away, upsetting the container of milk onto the kitchen floor. Looking aghast at the mess, P swore again loudly and stomped. This time he upset the chicken that was nesting in a nook on a ledge on the kitchen wall to lay her egg. She cackled and flew away, dropping the egg on the kitchen floor, splattering all its contents on top of the spilt milk. Frantically P looked around for something to mop up the mess. His eyes fell on the stale bread………..” The modern-day P paused his narration and took a sip of his tea.
He then cleared his throat and proceeded “They say that stale bread is very absorbent… Back in those days when there were no kitchen towels, they probably used stale bread instead. So P decided to break the bread into pieces to soak up the egg-milk mix.
When the entire stuff was soaked up by the bread pieces, P was reluctant to throw them away. After all, wasn’t egg and milk supposed to be very nutritious? Moreover, the smell of egg masked the bread’s stale odour. So he toasted the soggy slices on a greased frying pan, evenly on both sides, and the world’s first French toast was born….”
P stopped at this point and looked expectantly at his friend for some form of appreciation or applause for his creative imagination, but all he received was a blank stare.
“Now, what you have just eaten is probably the world’s first Indian-French toast,” P continued. “Quite easy to make: Prepare French toast like normal and just add liberal amounts of turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, fenugreek, asafoetida, pepper, ginger paste, garlic paste and onions. And of course the garam masala… Don’t forget the garam masala…”
“Even the art of appreciating poetry and literature is being lost in today’s modern world of text languages such “lol”, “ROFL” and so on, said P’s neighbour.
“OMG! Was he remarking on my language use?”wondered P.
The discussion with his neighbour had been about how people were too busy these days to appreciate the world around them and how important it was to get disconnected sometimes. The neighbour said that all these sentiments were best reflected in the poem “The world is too much with us; late and soon” by Wordsworth.
P nodded his head and agreed, though, he had never read or heard of the poem before.
The first thing he did as he came back indoors was to google and find the poem. He then read it a few times.
Initially, P did not understand half of what the words meant. However, as he read the poem over and over, he started to understand parts of it and like it.
For example, the first words read: “The world is too much with us;”
P couldn’t agree more! “Of course the world is too much with the United States!”
Even great poets like Wordsworth were prone to typos as the ‘u ‘and the ‘s’ were not in capitals, he observed.
As for “late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers”
P understood that the poet was talking about today’s energy crisis and how the salaries we were getting and spending were mostly being wasted on power bills.
P wholeheartedly agreed with the line, “Little we see in Nature that is ours”, as he read the line and looked out through the windows at the nearby skyscrapers and sighed. Not a single flat in those buildings was his. He would have loved to own a condo or an apartment in one of them but his finances were not up to scratch.
He could not make any sense of the line that followed: “We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!”. He mulled on it for a few minutes and guessed that it was something to do with heart transplants, though he could not understand why the poet should talk about that subject just out of the blue like that. “The poet’s liberty”, P shrugged and moved on.
He then came to the part about the sea, the moon and the winds.
He sniggered at the comparison of winds and sleeping flowers! With P, things couldn’t be more contrary when he remembered all his sleepless nights when he had had too spicy a dinner and had felt bloated.
As for the last few lines of the poem, he clearly understood that the poet was writing about a guy named Proteus taking a swim in the sea while another guy, may be a lifeguard, called Triton sat on the shore.
Triton, the lifeguard, blew through a horn instead of a whistle when Proteus swam too far out into dangerous waters and Proteus had to come back out of the sea.
“Why would the lifeguard use a horn rather than a whistle?” P kept asking himself.
“Poetic liberty again”, he guessed.
Yawning, he turned on the TV and sat down to watch his favourite channel, lifetime movies.
To-Do? Done!: Quickly list five things you’d like to change in your life. Now, write a post about a day in your life once all five have been crossed off your to-do list.-Daily Prompt
(Linking one of my earlier posts here. The list I’m afraid is more than five!)
P was looking at the Daily Post week-end writing challenge and it was about lists. It gave him a great idea! He could make a list of things to do and not to do so that he could get to the interview on time the next day morning. In P’s quirky life, he found it very hard to be on time anywhere, any time.
P firmly believed that this was not because of his fault. Despite striving his level best to be punctual, fate and nature seemed to be conspiring against him.The list of these conspiracies kept on increasing:
1) There were incidents where his alarm clock gave up after he repeatedly pressed the snooze button and had left him sleeping blissfully till noon even when he had an early morning appointment.
2) There were times when the can of tea powder would turn up empty, or there would be no milk in the fridge, when he dragged himself up from bed to get his first cup of tea. He had to rush to the corner shop or supermarket to get these items. Can you blame P if his constitution was such that he could come alive only after his cup of tea in the morning? Can you blame him again when at the shops, he decided to buy other things that were running low in the kitchen? And can you blame him if it took more than the expected time as he checked the prices and searched for the cheapest items on sale? Naturally he would be late if he had not slotted the time for ‘grocery shopping’ in his morning activities prior to leaving for an appointment.
3) His attire also used to give him plenty of trouble. Finding the right apparel from his wardrobe was always a time-consuming task….. especially when he was dressing up to go to some important function and changed his mind several times on what to wear. Who could blame P for wanting to look his best?
4) Many a time, his clothes for the day had been forgotten on the clothesline after washing and it would have rained in the night leaving them soaking wet. He would then have to throw them in the dryer and iron them. P only could shake his head at nature’s vagaries.
5) Even the lowly socks seemed to have it in for Mr P. Many a time his well laid plans to be punctual were trounced by the hunt for a matching pair.
6) Then, there were all those times when he believed that he had eaten well or was not hungry till he was about to leave for some appointment and all of a sudden, pangs of hunger would claw at his entrails. He then had to stop and eat something, upsetting the time schedule.
7) Also, his car keys would disappear at the last moment, and he would spend valuable minutes hunting for it everywhere only to find it hiding beneath some papers on the table or sometimes even in his pockets!
8) Talking about keys, his house keys also had their days of vanishing act, throwing him into a turmoil. Very often he would find them still stuck in the key hole of the door forgotten to be pulled out after entering the house the previous night.
9) Sometimes it would be the turn for his glasses to play hide and seek, and waste his time. They were often retrieved from beneath the bed where he had fallen asleep watching TV, or sometimes in the car.
10) When his wallet became untraceable, P used to become very desperate. He could not go out without it as it contained his driver licence, cash and cards. Frantic searches have often unearthed it from shopping bags he had brought home from the supermarkets, if not from under the car seat, sofa, top of the fridge and so on….
11) There were occasions when he could locate his wallet but was thrown into a panic as he could not find his bank cards within the wallet. The mere thought of all his money being siphoned out by some fraudster, used to get him so worried that he would spend precious time ringing up the bank and credit card companies, cancelling his card only to find it later in his wallet, secreted in one of its small pockets or concealed by some slips from the supermarket check-outs.
The list could go on and on, but for now, P was making a list of things to do to help him get to the interview on time. This interview was important and it was at 9 am, which was the time he usually turned his alarm off and snuggled deeper under the covers in his bed. He also did not want to turn up too early for the interview. “Ten minutes before the interview is ideal” he remembered reading somewhere.
So P grabbed pen and paper and made his list:
1) The interview was at 9 am so he planned to get up very early…… He noted to set his wake-up alarm as early as 8.30 am.
2) He decided to choose his attire for the next day and have the clothes laid out on the ironing board.
3) Pressing his shirt and pants for the interview would take some time, P guessed. He mulled a bit on whether he should finish this job today, but then, it was such a nice evening and P was just not in the mood. He decided that as soon as he woke up the next day, he would spend not more than 5 minutes and iron out all those creases.
4) Not to be outdone by his socks the next day, he decided to find a suitable matching pair and have them lying at the top of his bedside drawer.
5) He decided to do away with his morning shave as it could save him some ten minutes. Moreover, didn’t the faint undergrowth on the chin and cheeks help in giving him an intellectual look?
6) Usually his morning showers ranged anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour. He decided to reduce the time of his short morning shower to 5 minutes the next day morning.
7) The time spent in front of the mirror sprucing and grooming was to be cut short from half an hour to 5 minutes.
8) He decided to locate his car key, house key, glasses, wallet and cards and place them together on the dining table so that he would not waste any time looking for them.
9) Skipping his usual elaborate breakfast, P decided to have an Up & Go on his drive to the interview. He had estimated the drive to be 10 minutes. Even though he would not be able to reach the venue 10 minutes earlier than the scheduled time, he assessed that he would be able to reach there at least 5 minutes in advance.
10) He decided to go to bed early, rather than stay late into the night watching movies and late night shows, so that he would not hit the snooze button when the alarm went off the next day morning.
P followed everything as per the list and exactly at 8.45 am the next morning, he hurriedly grabbed his brief case and his UP&GO, stepped out of the house and shut the self locking front door behind him.
He put his hand inside his pocket for the car key………………….
The UP&GO and briefcase fell from his listless hand as the image of the cards and the car key still lying on top of the dining table flashed through his mind…………………along with the key to the front door of the house which was now auto-locked.