I am still looking for clues about the proverbial lost camel.
King Giaffer’s sons were clever. The three princes of the Serendipo were taught well. Their teacher was great. He managed to imbibe in them the power of logic and its application. Incidentally, this Serendipo is said to be the Serendip for us that gave birth to ‘serendipity’.
The story, in case you don’t know it, runs like this. King Giaffer had three sons. He wanted them to grow as able heirs to the throne of Serendipo. Their master on completion of their education returned them to the palace reporting that the princes were ready to take over their royal duties. But the king needed to test his sons’ ability to rule with sagacity. At that point, a merchant came into the royal court to complain that his camel was lost, probably stolen. The three princes were tasked with finding the camel even without being told anything about the camel.
So, the three Royal Princes set out on their task to first find the clues. I leave the details about how they found the clues to the camel’s look and other details for identifying it for you to find by reading the story.
When the princes approached the merchant with the details, the merchant thought they were the ones who had stolen the camel, for how else would they know so much about his lost camel? The story ends with someone finding the camel in the desert and bringing it to the King and King rewarding the princes for their sagacity and cleverness.
Alas! For me the life that I had aspired for remains even now like the camel. Lacking the sagacity of the princes of the Serendipo, I am still searching for the clues that would lead me to the life that could douse the craving for that life in me. But the Serendip or the Serendipo continues to elude me.
I sometimes feel that I was not meant to be. Whatever that has happened to me, in a good way that is, came in accidentally. That was the serendipity for me. But for the rest that actually was meant to be.
Take for example the issue of achievement. All my contemporaries and classmates are achievers and resting on their laurels. And me? Well! Still learning tricks to stay in business called earning and surviving.
So, I thought he could be my master when he told me I was still in my prime and I need to learn the tricks of creating content in a modern way. But he left that to my sagacity to define ‘modern’!
Trust me since then I have been running from pillar to post to learn about what modern was. The ultimate was the guy who nursed whisky at my expense telling me to leverage my experience! So, I blended the two received pearls of wisdom and thought digital would be the way. Isn’t it modern? I learnt video editing, and creating a domain for my blogs (yes, that’s where, if you are reading it, I have posted it.) and now I am told I need to create a sub-domain. I don’t know how. So I have to learn it.
But the best came from the wisest. He told me to learn from my failures. From relationship to profession, I have been a serial failure. So, my bag of wisdom is full by that count. Yet, I still remain in search of the master who taught those three princes so that I would at least know about the shape of the craved life and the way the princes predicted the camel’s look!
(Please feel free to leave your comments in the comment box so that we can stay connected)
(DALL-E created the pix for me)
Suparna Pathak: Namoshkar. Welcome to Mon Money produced by Content Crakners. I am Suparna Pathak, and with me is Saibal Biswas, an Investment Consultant, who is well-known to many of you. In this episode, we will be discussing savings and investments. Before that, a quick look at our starting screen.Saibal, in the last episode we mentioned that the cost of debt papers goes up when the interest rates fall and vice versa. If you could please elaborate on this as people have many questions about this?
Where do we buy our bonds from? From the Government of India, State Governments – Corporates also float bonds but they are relatively riskier though their risk profile is unlike that of equity.
Suparna Pathak: “Their risk profile is unlike that of equity”, please explain.
There was nothing spectacular that happened on 13th May 2022. Hardik Patel rebelled against Congress high command, while the Congress brass went into a huddle. The spectacle is known as Chintan Shibir. This, I am told, is a periodic attempt to create a road map for the future by the grand old party of India. Then there were a few incidents. Accidents that were allegedly the fault of the administration, someone killed somebody else for reasons best known to them, and so on and so forth. And of course, the usual tears shed over rising prices of fuel and essentials. Everything that happened was expected to happen and nobody’s morning tea got spoilt bar a small incident. I decided to try my hand at cooking!
I am still baffled by the way the wire entirely ignored this epochal event but then that is a matter of speculation that I refuse to dwell on. It’s not as if I am entirely starved of work. No. In fact, some might even call me a busy man. And the detractors, I am told, call me a busy man without business. This also I refuse to dwell on. But as of now what I am sure of is me being someone who is clueless about his existence. The last sentence, if read by my clients, might jeopardise my living as my bread depends entirely on my being quite sure of my existence. If I am not, how dare I advise others on how to define and communicate someone else’s existence. But then how long can you hide the truth?
So, here was this listless soul made even more listless by the despicable edibles being served on the table in the name of lunch and dinner. With due apologies to my dear wife who is so modest about her culinary abilities that she wouldn’t even flaunt them regularly so as to hide her skill from public scrutiny, I must confess that my tastebuds get titillated just by thinking about the food cooked by my mother and grandmother.
And, dear readers, I couldn’t take it anymore. The humiliation of being berated by friends who cook and flaunt their skills by inviting me over was getting on my nerves, to put it mildly. So on that fateful day, I lit the gas oven. I had seen maa cook this and still remember the taste. A summer dish that cannot go wrong. Hoping that you might like it, I am sharing this experience.
By the way, the kitchen by the standard of lower-middle-class families is big. Yet it was crowded with gawking ladies totally sure that the man of the house would ruin the perfect pieces of katla peti and the milk. But that day armed with my memory and the complete trust in taste buds I was the Don Quixote in the kitchen to out-chef the best chefs in the world.
But they wouldn’t allow me the full independence that I deserved. They quietly put haldi and salt on the fish as I was busy at the grinder mixing six almonds with a dash of milk. Readers, if you are new to the kitchen take it from me. Don’t allow the womenfolk of the household to watch you cook. They would ruin what is fated to be ruined anyway. Do not allow them the credit for ruining it. The haldi might interfere with the colour of the final output which is expected to be milk-white though a tad greyish. A tad, not more than that. Why? Read on and don’t be impatient.
I put mustard oil in the pan and lightly fried the fish. The inside of the fish should be cooked so that it remains soft yet the typical fishy smell is eradicated. I am not used to the expert’s words to describe it. While reading just remember that this is a disgruntled unwilling cook!
Then in a separate pan, I put some white oil and put two dried red chillies, one bay leaf and put two green cardamoms and broke one small cinnamon stick into the oil. Once the flavour filled the room, I put a little bit of oil and then put ginger paste, coriander powder, cumin powder and mixed them well.
And then put the almond and milk mix into the pan and bought it to a boil. It was the time to put chili powder, salt and ground black pepper to taste.
Don’t ask me the proportion. I didn’t measure. I trusted my taste bud.
It was time to put the fish in. And then let it boil on medium flame a bit just to allow the fish and the curry to get used to the marriage. And, yes, I had covered the pan to ward off prying eyes intruding into the process of this holy consummation.
And then I put a dash of ghee, chini (sugar) and garam masala (Bengali) powder and let it simmer a bit more.
Wait. All adventures of Don Quixote had disasters. And I was no exception. As I was cooking there were mechanics in the kitchen trying to bring our 16-year-old micro back to life, there were service people working on AC and then the driver from the garage to take our car for repairing the AC!
So I made a big mistake. Just before putting in the ghee, I had to put kalonji pasted in the grinder with a dash of milk. The paste shouldn’t have so much of the black spice as to turn the curry greyish on the dark side. But I had put two and a half spoon full of kalonji when a little over one spoon would have done the trick.
But you know what! For a first attempt, it wasn’t bad. I have my wife’s word for it. And yes, nobody clicked the final output!
He doesn’t have a pension. But what he has is education. A professor of a globally acclaimed academic institute in India, he used to despair about his future after his retirement. He worried about treatment costs, meeting monthly medicine bills and all that after retirement. Then covid happened. Both he and his wife had a nasty attack and almost died. And that changed him in a way that should be seen as, for want of a better word, revolutionary.
Much as I would have liked to pose as an exception, my much too known past defiantly stands in the way of even soliloquizing, “I didn’t live a clichéd life.” But, you know, even in some ordinary run of the mill lifestyles there could be sparks of extraordinariness. And in my case, it happened on the first day of my earning life.
When Usha knocked on the door and told me about the call from Calcutta, I walked into their flat like a zombie. Someone from the other end said something. I mumbled a response and cradled the receiver. Usha said, “Congratulations.” Even then it didn’t register: For I was sozzled.
I had every right to be. My stint at the IIM, Ahmedabad, was coming to an end. My paper won the registration the day before. Padmakumar, now the HR Director at one of the multinationals in India, had this bright idea to celebrate the occasion. (If you are wondering as to how in a state under prohibition I could get drunk, I will say only this – it was never an issue.) Not that we needed one. But Padmakumar was a clever one about excuses.
To run a long story short, my wife was in Calcutta expecting our first child who was supposed to be born sometime in December but merrily dealt a surprise by deciding on 25th November to be his birthday. Those days you had to book a call and wait for the connection to materialize. Lightning calls charged a bomb and urgent calls had no urgency to connect though they also cost a packet. So the day he was born, my parents and hers were busy with the grandkid. Sometime along the way they remembered my existence and the call materialised the next day in the morning.
One good thing about inebriation is that you are not fuzzy all the time. There are moments of lucidity as well. As I entered our apartment that moment of lucidity hit me. Usha, the daughter of our neighbour Prof Jain and my wife’s close confidante, congratulated me on my becoming a father! And the lady talking to me was no other than my proud mother-in-law! Broke the news amongst my friends littered across the floor, and again it called for celebration and so on and so forth. That’s how I landed in Calcutta to the realisation that I was a dad!
But no sooner had I landed than my father handed a diary to me saying, “Go through it and take a call. You need to get his birth certificate fast. Time is running out.” There we were with a diary full of hundreds of possible names to choose from. His nickname though was fixed. He was his grandparents’ Tartar. I am Suparna, she is Shubha so what about Shinjan! And it went on and on. Cousins chipped in. Uncles had their own views, aunts would, of course, have a different opinion. In short, there was no agreement. My logic was simple. Pathak is given. Both my wife and I have had the bitterest of experience of always being last in the queue because of our names. We wouldn’t like our son to suffer the same way.
Thus determined I walked into the Corporation office, filled in the form and named him Abhishek. The clerk took a glance at the form, looked at me and smiled. I wondered why and it took my father to clear the reason. Amitabh Bachchan’s son was also called Abhishek!
With hundreds of Abhishek around and with Pathak as his surname, he still comes almost last in the queue!
Suparna Pathak: Namoshkaar. Welcome to Mon Money presented by Content Crankers . This discussion is about the intricacies of Savings, so...