As the nights turn chilly, I’m having nightmares, not of witches or vampires but of onions and tomatoes. Welcome the new villains, the dreaded and surely pricey Mr Onion and his new sidekick Mr Tomato whose deadly combination has snatched the sleep of millions of citizens like me.
Onions and tomatoes have suddenly become the talk of the town, status symbol and surely available to the crème de la crème of our society. Anybody who wants instant access to the top echelons of society now needn’t flaunt his Rolex or BMW but should just have onions and tomatoes on the salad plate and onion pickle in his gin tonic. It’s an instant head-turner and eyeball-catcher. Bachelors are nowadays wooing young maidens not by gifting expensive perfumes or diamonds but by buying them 5 kg of onions.
Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest is being put to test. Anybody who can modify his taste buds to bland, tasteless, onion and tomato less food has more chances of survival. He can have a guaranteed depression-free life. But for lesser mortals like me who cannot give up to the heavenly flavor of onions and the tadka in my dal, the chances of survival are bleak. Most middle-class households have forgotten the experience of chopping onions. Remember the sniffles and watery eyes? Many have had to do without tangy and juicy tomatoes. I am filled with nostalgia as I watch the master chefs on TV mercilessly and exuberantly chopping and dicing onions. Onions have suddenly become as exotic as caviar.
Most vegetable vendors have stopped stocking up this cash crop for security reasons. It’s only the rich and mighty lot with a safe house and adequate security who can risk storing onions and tomatoes these days. Every unit is accounted for as a jeweller keeps a record of his diamonds and gold rings. At parties these days, political gossip has taken backstage and been replaced by talk of escalating prices of vegetables. The latest on the kitty party circuit is that it is a political move to curb the problem of obesity in India. But whoever put on weight by having vegetables!
Meanwhile, the health ministry can enumerate benefits of having a diet low on onion and tomato. It will lead to fitter generation and may even produce size zero models for international fashion pageants to do India proud.
Surely, one realises the value of things when one loses it. We the poor middle-class of India are feeling the pinch of losing our dear old friends.