Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Of recipes and memories

My mother has a bookshelf in her kitchen that has a number of cookbooks on it. Most of them are bought, but among them is a blue diary**, with yellow pages that are falling apart, holding a number of loose sheets of paper shoved in within its pages.

This diary has my Thamma's handwriting all over it. I'm not sure how my mother, the youngest bahu, ended up with it, but for most of my childhood, I remember that being the go-to book that would be spread open in the kitchen any time my mother was making carrot cake, or baked vegetables, or one of several other recipes.

I don't remember seeing it being used all that often in recent years - partially, I suspect, because I paid less attention, but also I suppose because some of those recipes have probably been used often enough to make referring to the actual recipe unnecessary.

I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a good cook. I like the idea of cooking, and do it from time to time. But it doesn't come instinctively to me, and that frustrates me. When someone rattles off a recipe on the phone to me, it's pointless because I won't remember any of it. And when anyone tells me to add something "andaaze se", it makes me want to tear my hair out. I need to see a recipe to make anything, and I need to be told exactly how much to put in of every single item I'm adding.

I own one cookbook, and I have a number of recipes saved in my email or my browser favorites. But a few weekends ago, I found an unused notebook I had bought impulsively a couple of years ago (hello, cute puppy on cover of diary. come home with me, yes?), and never used more than two pages of. One of those pages was a to-do list, and the other page was a recipe. And just like that, without really thinking it through, I found myself spending the next hour painstakingly writing down the recipes for the ten or fifteen recipes I use on a regular basis, along with a few that I want to try at some point.

This notebook is now sitting in my kitchen, and has been referred to twice or thrice in the past few weeks. I'm hoping it gets used more often, and that it gets added to more often, and that eventually, I won't really need to refer to it that often, but that it will still sit there, waiting to be opened up and looked at.

** Update: The mother has emailed me to point out that I have my diaries all mixed up. Apparently the one with Thamma's cake recipes is a brown leather bound diary, while the blue one is something she herself used to save and scribble recipes in, and was originally given to her by her father-in-law so she could learn to read and write Bengali.

I was a kid, okay. But the point is the same, really.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

On Broadchurch

If you haven't watched the show Broadchurch, and intend to at some point (and I highly recommend you do because it is amazing), this post may not be for you (also don't search for the show online - at all). Because I spent about six hours yesterday watching all eight episodes at one go, and I'm trying to decide why and how I figured out who the killer was. So even if I don't name the killer outright in this post, the way I try to analyze this, I might, as they say, give the game up.

So, here's the thing. I'm the person who turns to the last page of a mystery book to see who the killer is - once I form a suspicion of my own, that is. I can't help it, that's who I've been since I started reading Agatha Christie and Mary Higgins Clark in my early teens, and I do it till today.

So yesterday, when I started watching Broadchurch, I think it was in the third or fourth episode when a very friendly and nice scene made me wonder. And then  I obviously did a search on the show, while watching, without really intending to find out if I was right. And as it turned out, one of the first results that popped up explicitly stated - as a synopsis in the results page itself - that the second season of the show will be about said character's trial. So a, I was right! B, don't do a search for the show if you've got this far in this post and still want to watch the show, 'kay?

So what I'm trying to figure out is why I thought it was this person. Was it simply because this person, by this point in the series, was honestly the least likely person? And reading and groaning over Agatha Christie as a teenager invariably makes me suspect the least likely person? Or was it the fact that one of the lead cops on the case kept showing her trust in the people she knew, the community she lived in, and the other lead cop kept telling her not to be so certain? And the person I suspected was, after all, the person she would have been most certain about?

And then - this is the truly spoilery part - there's the part where she looks at another woman, who has suffered a different tragedy, and judges her for not knowing. "How could you not know?", she asked. That line was bound to come back to haunt her, wasn't it? By the time that scene took place, even I hadn't already decided and found out who the killer was, the scene was set up, my first thought would have been, "well, aren't you going to regret saying those words."

I think. Would it have been? Would I have seen the point of that scene as clearly if I hadn't peeked ahead? I can't decide, and that's what's bothering me.

I really need to stop peeking ahead when I'm reading/watching mysteries.

Also, for those of you have who have watched the show, is there any point to watching Gracepoint? Because I still don't understand why they remade it the way they did. And I'm wondering I should spend another six hours (or longer since I hear they added a couple of episodes) to see the point of the remake. No, right? Tell me I shouldn't spend that kind of time. Please?