Monday, December 15, 2008

A lot of food and a picnic (Dec 2008)

Sona's birthday was on the 6th of this month. Pratibha and her fine circle of friends got together and pretty much ran the show from start to finish. Sona and their kids had a blast. Lots of noise, lots of balloons, lots of fun. In one of my insane moments I said I would cook the biriani all by myself. I had never cooked for more than ten but I pooh poohed at Pratibha's concern at my lack of practical experience. "Experience" I told her "is over-rated. All it takes is an analytical mind". Precise portions were calculated out using my razor sharp brains. We called forty people and I ended up cooking for a hundred people. My eyes still water as I think about all the onions I cut on that fateful birthday eve. I was up late, I was up early, and eventually, the next day, I was up late trying to finish all that food. Feeling sorry for me Pratibha rang up her friends and we decided to go for a hike and have a picnic the next day.
The only longs hikes I'd been to with Sona since she got here were the aisles down shopping malls. Now those are really long hikes, but where is the fresh air, and the warm spring smell, and grass under your feet, the bird droppings, the dust, the rain .. er .. ok.. the fresh air .. where is the fresh air? Including kids, there were ten of us. Leena, Nilesh and their kids Aksh and Moksh, Sachin, Charu and their daughter Kashvi and the three of us. Nilesh suggested Mt Laguna "This time of the year, there will be at least a foot of snow, we can play there, make a snowman. There's a lake at the top. We can have our picnic there, maybe even skate on the lake if it is frozen hard enough" he said. Sounded like fun. In my enthusiasm to finish the food I cooked, I even volunteered to pack all the food into my backpack and carry it all the way.

We got together at Leena and Nilesh's at 10 in the morning. We were held up for a few minutes there as Aksh scooted off to fetch a carrot. "Snowman needs a nose" He said. Finally, 10:30, we set off and got there in an hour. Funny .. I always imagined snow was white. This place was anything but white. Plenty of green, a lot of brown and leaves of all colors. Aksh started to eat his carrot. Better that than to throw it away. So we set off, Sona and Aksh leading the way, towards the promised frozen lake where we would have our picnic. My backpack was heavy, which reminded me of the onions. I wiped away my tears as I plodded on in my usual spot at the back of the group. Progress was slow as we kept stopping for pictures. A quarter mile down Sona gave up and I had to put her on my shoulders too. A half mile down and Every one's breath was rasping. The wind was ice cold and our legs were aching. Leena suddenly remembered that she had pani puris at home. The vision of all that warmth and hot tea and pani puris filled our eyes. We held a small conference. I spied a small patch of grass between the trees. All of us agreed that looked like it was a lake a long long time ago. "Forget the picnic, Let's go home and eat", we declared and started back. My eyes watered even more as I felt the full weight of the backpack this time. I put sona down and told her she's on her own. She tried her luck with her mom and finally gave up and started walking.Somehow we made it back to the parking lot and took off for Leena's place. We had our food in front of the fireplace with a real table to keep food on. Even had a microwave to heat the food. I've never had a better picnic ever.