Uganda  -HUMOUR 2000 


Ladoos by Mahadev Desai 

I vividly remember that Thursday,September 21st. I was lying on my giant sized mattress. It is so big,whenever I feel like hugging my wife,I virtually have to swim to her! I sleepily stretched my right hand trying to cuudle her but all I caught was a cold pillow! She had quietly slipped out of the bed into the kitchen, while I was still dreaming about Juhi Chawla! (Dirty old pervert that I am!) Well, it was bit early for me to get up. I found a sweet spot in the mattress which was warm and cozy. I covered my head with the quilt which held me tighter than she ever did! 

"Your tea is getting cold" she yelled from the kitchen.Reluctantly I let out a yawn, found my slippers ,brushed my teeth and grabbed my mug of hot tea (nectar). I got ready and rushed to Home Depot for some paint. At 11.00 a.m.I got out of the car. I was dying for a hot drink."Can I have a cup of masala tea please!' as my reward for getting the paint. I shouted from the garage. My wife who was peeling vegetables cooly replied, "If you don't mind tea with milk powder instead of milk ?' As I was in no mood to go for a second round of shopping , I settled for masala tea with a teaspoon of condensed milk! Yucky ! My wife had a day off ,so I was expecting a long list of chores. I was thinking hard of an escape route. I was in luck. As I was sipping tea, the phone rang. It was her boss, sounding a bit worried.

My wife talked with her for a minute, put the receiver down and said," One of the girl Cashiers have fainted at work, so she has been rushed to the hospital . They need me to help out at the cash register. I should be back by 5-00 p.m. I want you to put the clothes in the dryer and iron them. And no cooking!" She hurriedly got dressed and drove off. I put the clothes in the dryer. The mailman had delivered my weekly copy of 'India Tribune' I quickly turned its pages. A snippet in bold type, grabbed my attention, " Laddu machine at Tirumala recommissioned." It proclaimed that a unique laddu machine installed in the temple kitchen by Mico-Bosch Company was capable of producing 2400 laddus an hour! " What next ? I mused. And a strange coincidence ! The phone rang." Hi Mahadev. It is Sunil.Can you pick me up from the airport at 2-00 p.m.? "Sunil, my college mate is a travelling salesman-his life is full of hellos and goodbyes from different airports. "Delighted to hear your voice Sunil, but yaar I don't have a car. You better take Marta and walk to the house. It is about a mile from the station' It didn't seem to worrry him, "OK. Sounds fine but tell Bhabhi to make some ladoos for me. See you soon." Little did he know that Bhabhi had been summoned soldier-like to the Walmart front! I knew that Sunil loved boondi ladoos. When we were in hostel, we used to compete as to who could eat the most.I had already disappointed him once by not being able to pick him up. I couldn't disappoint him again. Bhabhi or no bhabhi,he shall have the ladoos,I vowed. I got the recipe book out. The recipe looked simple enough. (These cookery books like sex manuals are very deceptive indeed!) After a quick search I found all the ingredients. I quickly washed the karai but forgot to wipe it dry. I poured oil in it and when I lit the gas stove out on the deck, because the karai was wet the oil started sputtering as if it was complaining. I made the gram flour batter and found the zara(long spoon handle with holes in it) to make the boondis. The batter was too thin so instead of boondis the flour trickled like a string and came up like jalebi! 'Oh my God,not today' I said. I quickly added extra flour but the consistency was so thick ,that instead of soft boondis it came out as ganthiyas! Two more attempts and finally I got enough boondis for three ladoos.

To the second stage. Syrup. As soon as I added the first lot of boondis in the hot syrup, the doorbell rang. A black guy, Alf from UPS was standing at the door with a parcel. While I was signing for the receipt, he said, "It smells good, man. I love Indian sweets.". I said, "I am sure you do, but its not ready yet. Can I offer you a coke instead?". Alf smiled and said," Only if I can inject it! Ha, ha. Good day, sir. "And he left. I remembered my unfinished task. The sky overhead was dark and a few tiny raindrops were landing in the karai and the syrup. The weather forecast had been wrong. I had left the first portion of boondi too long in the hot syrup so they became too soft and syrupy. It was 2.15 p.m.Enough time, I said. I was wrong. The phone rang. It was my wife. "Is everything OK?" she asked. and continued, "Have you finished ironing? If you have, can you sweep the garage! And see that all the windows are shut as it is threatening to rain any minute. The Indian girl who fainted is now back from hospital. so I have been permitted to come home. I am on my way" she hung up. 

Oh no. I had completely forgotten about ironing. I will have to come up with an excuse. I will have to tell the familiar lie-there was a power outage.Red panic button on. I turned the gas full blast. The syrup bubbled furiously. I threw in the remaining boondis. I quickly took it out, added saffron, almonds cardamom etc. and pressed it into three ladoos. Looked great.Sunil will be thrilled, I thought. I put the ladoos in the fridge to cool off. I tidied up everything. It was 3-00 p.m. The doorbell rang. Would it be he or she. Fortunately it was Sunil. "How are you, Mahadev. Gosh, what a walk. I am starving. Where is bhabhi, yaar. Did she make the ladoos.?' I replied, "Sunil, good to see you. Bhabhi is fine but she had to go to work. But do I have a surprise for you. Just close your eyes for a minute and don't move." Sunil obeyed. I rushed to the fridge and got the ladoos out. "Now open your eyes and catch." I tossed a ladoo at him. Sunil plays cricket. He caught it and took a big bite. Beta-testing my ladoos. Instead of 'wah wah, this is great!' I heard pain stricken "ouch" from him. "Is this ladoo or a baseball? The ladoos should be soft like tennis balls at Wimbledon. "he said."I think we should send these hard baseball like ladoos to Atlanta Braves" He was right. The ladoos were as hard as canonballs. Damn that syrup. I secretly wished that like a plate of Nasim Rice, a plateful of boondi ladoos would come flying through the window ! And I could gleefully shout, 'Time to eat, Sunil!' But alas, all I could do was apologise,"sorry Sunil. Well, I can't fly you to Tirumala but I can certaily drive you and bhabahi to 'Chatpatti' for ladoos.!." Help! Anyone willing to give me cookery lessons, please !

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Just an observation. Mercedes car as a status symbol

It was interesting to note in one of the scanned images that the Mercedes Benz is still a symbol of status and economic upliftment even in the diaspora.

In EA this was and I beleive still is a symbol of status and economic wealth - funny it is still the car of choice even in the diaspora a generation or 2 down the road.

In Kenya the asians favored the mercedes, the kikuyus volvos and no prominent Luo would be seen without his latest peugeot or citroen. The recent somali exodus has broght a new dimension the land-cruiser to the somalis is what a mercedes is to asians. Going back to the Mercedes Benz, it seems that in the UK every muhindi has one and if you go to North London that is all you see. Here as is probably the case in the US - it is very much a status symbol amongst the Asians as the duty is very high and hence it is very expensive. A Merc from Dobie (I heard DT Dobie has been sold) is 30-40% cheaper than buying a Merc here. Every 'made' muhindi here has at least one Merc in their fleet of cars.

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