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Spice of life

Spice of life

india Updated: Aug 20, 2006 03:42 IST

Maybe it’s because I grew up in Calcutta — all those “cholbe na-s” I heard must have made a huge impact on my impressionable mind  — or maybe it's because, as my mother says, I’m just a lazy bum, but the fact remains that I once disapproved strongly of work.

Given a choice (and of course, unlimited filthy lucre), I’d never have gone to office. I’d have just stayed in bed.

I didn’t have a choice, of course. The only filthy lucre I have (and it is very limited) is the few torn notes that are the salary of a journalist.

So I had to hire a bai who loved a challenge and made it her mission to wake me up every morning, and drag myself off to work, day after day, to gaze sadly at misplaced commas and semi-colons and whine about the injustice of life.

Why, I would ask, as I read the rants on  www.whywork.org, the website run by a “pro-leisure and anti-wage-slavery” group of people, do I have to go to office?

Why, I’d sob, as I listened to the anti-work speeches at www.audioanarchy.org/antiwork.php, must I work a six-day week? Why, oh why, I’d wail, as I pored through www.modernetiquette.com, a site by an “international etiquette consultant”, can’t I be a lady who lunches? (Okay, I don’t have a mink stole to wear to my country club, but surely I can get by with quaint Fashion Street kitsch?)

But all that whining was in the past. It’s over. For the last three weeks, I’ve been bounding enthusiastically out of bed every morning — and extra-brightly on Saturdays. I get to the office at the crack of dawn — so early that I’m the one who switches on all the lights. And I’ve had just a single day off in 21 days — from choice.

How did this happen, you ask. Well, even if you don’t, I’ll tell you. It’s because of the canteen.

Once upon a time, the canteen’s lunch repertoire consisted of chicken curry (Mondays), chicken curry without salt (Tuesdays), chicken curry with too much salt (Wednesdays), chicken curry with just a tantalising hint of salt (Thursdays), chicken curry with salt but no gravy (Fridays), and chicken curry without salt or gravy (Saturdays).

But I don’t know what happened. Three Saturdays ago, they gave us roast chicken. Real roast chicken, the actual conti stuff. Roast chicken with… chapati. And pickle.

I was stunned. What an imaginative meal! So I phoned the canteen with effusive congratulations and discovered that, from now on, every Saturday was going to be international day.

Wow! The following Saturday, I waited for lunch with breathless anticipation. Batter-fried chicken, it was, with veg pulau. What next, I wondered, and spent all week in even more breathless anticipation for the next Saturday lunch. It was amazing. Chilli chicken. With puri and raita. Perfect. But I’m worried. I don’t know how long this creativity will last — what if they run out of combos and return to chicken curry? So I surfed the Net, and presented the canteen with sites that might inspire them.

At www.veggieromance.com/f/37070 for instance, there’s a raging discussion on strange food concoctions that’s bound to give our canteen guys some ideas. Then there’s weirdmeat.com which, though it has little to do with chicken, may encourage them to expand their repertoire. And, at thewackyshack.homestead.com, there’s some truly inspiring stuff going on.

Check these out. They’re guaranteed to give everyone — not just the canteen guys — food for thought.