So as it happens, One evening, I do end up at Lord Evans’ house at seven pm, gawking at the electric piano that stands still beside the sofa, its shine almost blinding. It has been a long time since I’ve seen a proper house, with cupboards and all, so I am sort of dazzled by the elegance of this handsomely furnished place with carpeted floors and tiled walls. There are cabinets and cupboards everywhere, and the washbowl holds a designer faucet. In my house, we have the most common, probably-the-first-kind-to-be-engineered, faucet. This flat must have cost him a fortune.
“TV is in there, although I’m not sure you are getting the remote today. “Lord Evans says.
“I have already promised Keshav. Well, he wanted to watch DD Sports. But we bargained and everyone settled for Star Gold. “He explains.
“Star Gold? “I stare at him, wide-eyed. I mean, we are evidently poor and have an ancient LG tv at home, but we never watch Star Gold.
“Well, majority. “He shrugs.
“Alright. Gimme a charger. And a chair. ”
“Charger on the shelf. And chair, there. “He points at the dinner table surrounded by four similar posh chairs. I grab the stuffs and find myself a place.
There’s nothing to do, actually. The network is painfully slow, and I’ve already heard enough melodies to develop a temporary distaste for music. I don’t have video games, nor am I the kind to play them.
“Have you seen the Paalak Paneer yet? “Rana barges in. He was playing Mini Militia with the group; it seems they’ve kicked him out. Oh wait, did he just say paalak paneer?
That’s something I haven’t heard or seen in, like, a decade.
“Yeah. It’s at the counter. A bowl. A goddamn bowl. “He rhapsodizes.
“How many people? ”
“Seven of us. “He says, does some mental math, and adds, “six cubes to each. ”
Suddenly, my enthusiasm peters out. The goddamn bowl seems so small now.
“Alright. I’m furious. “Lord Evans butts in. His forehead is crinkled, and that’s the most remarkable feature of his fury. Even newborn babies would beat him in display of anger.
“What happened? ”
“It was mutually agreed that they’ll switch to Star Gold after nine, and not when they were showing FAIRY TAIL on animax. “He says, shrugs, and adds, after a strategic pause, “They threw me out. ”
Then, another guy, Yash, comes in as well, for he was always losing in Mini Militia.
“They all team up, and the first thing they do is find me, nuke my ass, and eliminate me. Then they are like, you win this one, I’ll win the next one, and MB will win the next one, and so on. “He says. Rana nods.
“What do we do now? “I ask.
Lord Evans shrugs again. He always shrugs.
“I guess we cook. “I suggest, not that I want to become the next Sanjeev Kapoor or something, but I honestly have nothing better to do, especially with this 437 b/s downloading speed.
“That’s a brilliant idea. “They all say at once. I feel like basking for a while, but they have already started darting questions at me.
“What do we cook? ”
“Do you know how to cook? ”
“Are you going to assign roles? ”
“Who’s preparing the list of ingredients? ”
“Can we just kick them out and trim the crowd? ”
Their excitement has reached stratospheric levels, and I am still not sure if I really meant it when I said we should cook.
“We google. “I say.
Two minutes later, twenty-one jars stand on the countertop as we guess the contents inside them.
“That looks like powdered coriander. “Lord Evans says, scratching his genius chin.
“Just because it is green, it doesn’t have to be coriander. “Yash argues.
“Maybe we should open it. “Rana says, his expressions as if he is the hero in some sci-fi franchise and the jars have been dropped by UFOs. He would find mystery in anything – like even in a jar full of green maybe-coriander.
Lord Evans steps up and opens the jar. A familiar strong tangy smell floods the atmosphere. It’s not coriander, it is something else.
“Is it clove powder? “I ask, and realise it was a stupid question.
“Green chillies. “Yash says, and Rana snaps his fingers in Archimedes-ic delight.
“Oh Yeah! ”
We are so going to be terrible husbands and burdens-on-our-wives in future.
“Alright, we google. Okay? ”
“Wait. We have Okra in abundance. Look for some okra recipe. “Lord Evans says. Rana has been trying to sneak a paneer cube from the bowl but Yash stops him every time with a cold stare. I google “Best Okra Recipe” and the article “7 best Okra recipes” pops up on my screen. Number 7 is called The Classic Okra, which seems like a mouth-watering dish from the pictures. There’s not much of Okra in there, but it still looks delicious as heaven.
“We are going to prepare The Classic Okra. “I declare. It sounds more like a flight announcement. Lord Evans mocks my tone and accent by saying, ” We are not on RMS Titanic. ”
“Alright, we need bread. Do we have bread? “I say, and thus begins the most extraordinary adventure of our bachelor lives – Operation Classic Okra.
We grab all the contents, identified through instincts and agreements and google searches, and set the stage. Lord Evans brings the pale white apron with a green flower in its center, and we have a slight disagreement ( actually a war ) over who’s going to wear it. I really want to wear the apron.
“Dude, you are not even cooking. You’re just dictating from the screen sitting in the chair stuffing yourself with bread. “Lord Evans exclaims. Whatever. I still want to wear the apron.
“I will squeeze lemons and maybe chop some garlics for you guys. Now give me the apron. “I say. They look at me in contempt, and two minutes later it’s decided that they’ll wear the apron in turns. And I am out of this. Assholes!
They place the materials on counter and look at me for the dictation of plan of action.
“Okay, so we start with dicing okras. “I say, and Yash pulls out the knife from the pantry. He cuts them carefully as Lord Evans asks him to maintain the geometrical symmetry.
“And the tomatoes. And grind the spices in mixer-grinder. ”
Rana tries for the millionth time to steal some paneer, and Yash handles him garlics and asks him to bare them. Now peeling garlics with fingernails can be a really tough job, people. I feel sad for Rana as he carefully scrapes each layer of the garlic clove, staring hungrily at the bowl.
“Put some oil in the pan, you bunch of scurvy scums. “I yell. I feel like Captain Barbossa giving orders in the Black Pearl. I’m in the driver’s seat and they are my slaves. Yeah but I really wish they let me touch the apron!
“How much oil, and which oil? “Yash asks, and I look at the screen. It’s not mentioned, maybe because it’s one of the basics.
“You don’t know that, you dumbasses? Put cooking oil in there. “I say, furiously punching on my Google search box – which oil to use for frying okra?
“Put mustard oil. No, Fortune oil. “I say. In the other tab, I’ve opened xvideos, so focusing on Okra is kind of getting difficult.
“Alright. Fortune oil. “Says Lord Evans, and with it goes the oil in the pan. We’re rocking the kitchen floor! Yaayyy!
Fifteen minutes later, we have diced ( with scientific precision ) okras, the paste of spices, lemon juice ( Lord Evans squeezed them ), bared garlic cloves, and sliced tomatoes. And I have an erection. All we need now is zucchini. Wait! What is zucchini?
“Hey! Does any worthless hag here know what’s zucchini? “I ask. They shake their heads.
“Sounds like bukake. “Rana laughs at his own joke as he blinks furiously cutting the onions. He has been promoted to the onion job, poor Rana. I peep inside the TV room to check what they’re watching, and I am quite disgusted to find some stupid weightlifting game from some big event. I mean that’s not why you keep televisions. Why the hell nobody watches 9xm here!!??
I search zucchini, however, the network is so painful, the page never gets loaded. I am frustrated now; I want to kill every Vodafone official.
We decide we’ll prepare the dish without zucchini. I read out the steps and walk into the kitchen every five minutes for inspection. As far as debutants go, they possess good culinary skills. I’m impressed by the neatness and the precision of their acts, and I’m sure they’ll spend all their lives chopping onions while their wives will be watching Star plus or something. The story of my father.
“Alright. When do we turn off the knob? “Asks a puzzled Lord Evans. The okras in the pan have formed a multicoloured collection, some charred black while some still fresh green, and I don’t know what to do now.
“Lower the flame, you worthless git. “I say, and Lord Evans snarls, and then turns the knob anti-clockwise. Poor guy can’t even dominate me.
We wait for the rest of the okras to get coooked, and toast the bread in the meantime. There are crumbs of cheese lying in the refrigerator, and some coriander leaves which could serve as garnish. And maybe we could also use tomatoes. I’m already drooling as I think about the cuisine, and the ethereal taste of it. I’m savoring the thought with all my passion, when a sharp smell floods my nostrils.
“What’s it? “I quiz.
“Smells like okras burning. “Rana says lazily. He is making flowers with the onion peels, the poor Sherlock.
“Oh turn it off! “I shout.
“Knock it off, loudmouths. There are people in here. “The guys in the TV room yell as Yash turns the knob to its terminal position.
“Why is our okra so black? “Lord Evans asks as he peers at the image in my phone.
“C’mon now! Don’t be a racist! “I say.
We get the partially-burnt dish in a bowl, and I tell myself it’ll be better when we mix lemon juice in it. We garnish the Classic Okra, and get to the TV room.
Later that night, we binge on Palak Paneer and our piece of heaven – The Classic Okra – as we watch Diljale on Star Gold.