My maternal Grandfather was an imperious man. Born and brought up in Lahore, Pakistan he moved to Bombay after Partition. Except for that little detail, he always remained a Punjabi at heart (by his own admission). Very fond of his meat and drink till the very last years of his life when he lost interest in almost everything. He would consume a tandoori or butter chicken every evening and relax later with a scotch.
A very talented man, he was a Hindustani Classical music expert and frequently sang for All India Radio in his heydey. As things go, real life intervened and he sacrificed this talent at the altar of a steady job and family pressures.
Despite that, a conversation with him would always bring out this brilliant, eccentric, fun-loving side of him which was a delight.
I learned three important lessons from him: always look for the opportunity to pursue your dream, appreciate good scotch and make the perfect scrambled eggs. Yes, scrambled eggs.
The day I learned scrambled eggs from Nanaji wasn’t very pleasant. He’d had his breakfast ruined and was sulking. A short-tempered man, he would frequently let such moods get the better of him. A young me watched him fearfully from one corner of the room. He summoned me over gruffly and said “Come along, since no one knows how to make scrambled eggs in this house, let me teach you instead.”
I nervously followed him into the kitchen. He took out a frying pan, poured just a little bit of oil and asked me to break four eggs into a bowl. “Two for me and two for you. Deal?” I gulped. Eggs in, he added salt and milk. “The milk is the most important ingredient. Makes it fluffy and creamy”, he said. “Whisk it till it froths. Then pour the mixture into the pan and keep moving it around till your arm falls off.” He had a great sense of humor.
“Stop stirring when it’s just moist. Remember to turn off the heat before you serve it because the egg will keep cooking even after the heat is off. Balance it.” “Andaz ki baat hai” he added in Hindi.
It was the most delicious serving of scrambled eggs ever.
Years later, I still prepare Nanaji’s scrambled eggs for my family. The bliss on everyone’s faces is a real kick. Breakfast at home with my scrambled eggs is a happy occasion and I’m grateful to Nanaji for this small but consistent legacy of delight.
Regarding the scotch – It’s easier to go to a shop and buy some. Don’t be cheap, spend a bit. Finish your meal, put on some music, surround yourself with the people you love and sip slowly.
On pursuing dreams – I haven’t found one yet, but I’ll try not to let real life hijack it.
Love you Nanaji. Thank you.