SPOUSE, SAMBANDHI & UPPUMA Dusk was setting in. Spouse was home just from her walk in garden. With beads of sweat on her eyebrows, she was seen climbing up holding her saree and stuffed bag of vegetables. That was the moment I sneaked a peek. Panting, she while handing over the cloth bags into my hands said in whispering tone “you gotta to hurry up. Don’t stand as a catalyst. Our sampandhi downstairs Mr SR said ‘feeling hungry’ and enquired whether I can make uppuma for him. Gather ingredients and first chop finely two big onions and two green mirchi. I promised would return to him soon with uppuma & coffee. Prepare filter coffee for three - and take fresh milk pouch from refregirator. I will look for suji (rava).” In single breath, she finished with her directions. I couldn’t dare asking her whereabouts of my sambandhi family including my daughter who loved their son had turned their DIL. I took milk in pouch from fridge dipped it in cold water and went about preparing decoction using filter and coffee powder. As water in davara warmed up, the air bubbles began raising, I removed it from flame transferred it to the filter which had already been gently tapped with powder kept ready. Milk was warming up; I saw a perturbed spouse rummaging the stocks from a large aluminium drum. Perhaps suji she was searching for not available in ss drum. I suggested her to look into the freezer part of the fridge. Yes - she used to keep it stuffed with pulses, dry fruits, walnuts, rice flour etc; it was never used for making ice or to keep ice cream. She finished visual inspection of the suji with help of large magnifying glass for slithering worms and possible odour. Satisfied with the quality, she began roasting pre- measured quantity to a golden brown for 2 minutes. Dry aroma began emanating from hot pan. Seeing me finishing with cleaning, pealing and fine chopping of onion, she enquired whether I had cleaned the tray and knife. Seeing my nod, began reeling out next set of directions. She hastened me to fetch, wash and squeeze curry leaves and keep it aside. In the meanwhile, flame adjusted for quick boiling the milk. While milk being boiled on left side burner in high flame, in other burner in hot pan she added three tablespoonful ghee . A nice fragrance came out of it as she dropped - split cashew followed by mustard in a circle. As mustard began to pop, split ulund added which began turning into gold. I prayed that this process done correctly lest the burnt mustard and ulund to be discarded; she can’t afford to waste time. Then Flame adjusted to low, added one by one to pan finely chopped green mirchi, grated ginger, two red mirchi, curry leaves in that order. Then dropped the finely chopped onions into it, stirred the contents slowly till onion turned translucent. As I was immersed in overseeing her “work in progress” naturally I forgot milk as half of it already climbed over and left the container turning cooking platform into rivulets. Spouse looking at my negligence with mixed expressions, tapped her forehead repeatedly with her four fingers followed by twitching her eyebrows. Now, with her left hand, she steadily transferred the roasted rava in instalments into simmering water in the pan, her right hand moved dexterously a wooden spatula stirring gently the contents in the hot pan. She added gently some more ‘bisleri’ water into it with accurate “eye - hand coordination” and to avoid formation of lumps, stirred the contents slowly with wooden spatula. Flame lowered. Pan stood covered with a lid. I prepared strong coffee with less sugar . With a twinkle in my eye, I offered it to her with love. Redolence of cooked uppuma emanated from pan, soon began wafting through air. She opened the lid, and had sneak a peek; I found hot non-sticky, onion suji uppuma ready to be devoured. Due to combined effort, entire operation completed almost on war footing - 15 minutes flat - and entire process was racy, akin to a mini marathon. I With hot coffee in davara and she with uppuma, descended down the stairs one behind the other. When we entered downstair hall of Mr. SR , he was seen standing near washbasin gargling loudly with denture on hand. With a grin, we kept the containers of coffee and uppuma on the table. A lanky bald beaming SR turned around said “Oh my! Our cook Gomathi had just come; made dosa and coffee for me; i just had them. She left now in her moped in tearing hurry”.