I think it was 2005 when the big flood hit Bombay. Rain that didn’t stop for a whole week and all I remember of it was a week off from college. That and some of my friends were forced to A) Walk hours through flood waters to get home B) Camp out in South Bombay, the part of the city that saw nothing of this so-called flood. I fell into neither of the categories because I lived in South Bombay, like a non-snob (promise). I was there as a paying guest in a nice little house, the kind that is the stuff of urban legend today.
Unable to completely understand what was bringing this beast of city to a standstill, I made no effort to go out and see it for myself. It was raining and I’ve always believed the one thing I don’t like about moisture-laden clouds is their ability to make my feet feel alien. “Rain shoes” were only part of my vocabulary until my mother bought them for me. After that, it was “whatever-I-can-find-under-the-cupboard shoes”, which were never my shoe(s) in the first place.
Landlady and us roommates got the daily flood reports of places 30-minutes-away-by-train from the TV. Everyday – assuming A. Myra was not taking Jassi waaaayy too seriously – we’d turn on nondescript Hindi news channel and see images of a lot of filthy water, flooded homes (many of them makeshift) and people…having…fun?
And playing silly games?
All this over the voice of a news anchor sitting in a studio trying to sound like the opposite of what was happening. Apart from the people who were living all of it, the rest of us were all detached from reality and unable to see that the only people whose lives really sucked at the time were the ones that were truly happy.
In all that uncertainty, confusion and really inconvenient living arrangements, the moving images that moved me the most was their joy. Their faces did not match the headlines and it made me feel like an idiot for missing out on all the fun. I used to have this grand idea as a child of blocking the space under the doors and turning on the tap in the bathroom. So you know, I could turn the house into a swimming pool. I never accomplished that and the images were as close as I could get to being 7 again…minus all the parental drama that could’ve been.
I want to be that happy amongst that much sad. Because stupidly, I feel like I can handle it. We live in a world with constant expectations and being damn near (pick a number!) 25 never makes it any easier. We choose our paths and create ideas of how we’re supposed to be but it’s never any of that. It’s always more. It’s the part of you that practices saying “I’m a photographer”, when you’re not sure if you really are/can/pretend to be one. Or the girl that wants to have an uninterrupted 8 hours of just plain creativity in the hope that it one day be paid for. In the middle of it all, we just want to be one thing, even if it means an unscheduled glass of life-changing grape juice.
And to be that girl in a flood because her life is not over and HEY, she finally has her own swimming pool.
Think of this as a “how to” because based on this, I have a lot of non-throw-it-over-pasta recipes swimming in my head. I tried out one today in a hurry since I had to feed my little animal before I went out into the world. I let him finish up the bits and ends so I’ve yet to taste it. If it’s good, tomorrow will be the day!
- 3 red peppers
- 4 cloves of garlic (more if you love garlic)
- 1 cup of yellow onions (or red/purple)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil
Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F, which in this house take 5 years and I’ve hired a personal chef in the future so why are we doing this again?
Slice the red peppers down in the middle and get rid of the seeds and the stalk. If you’re the seed-preserving kind, you can do that as well! Place them cut side down on a baking sheet lined with foil. I forgot to grease the foil. I don’t know if you’re supposed to but it didn’t matter. I know this because it didn’t stick. Peel and smash the garlic with the back of the knife and place it among the cut peppers. Lightly sprinkle the peppers with salt and put them in the oven for 45 minutes of until parts of the top get slightly blackened.
Once this happens, don’t freak out because this is how it’s supposed to be. Let the peppers cool completely and then peel off the skin and keep aside. You can save the non-blackened parts of the skin if you want to use in the sauce. It’s no big deal either way. Throw the peppers and (possibly) rock hard garlic pods into a blender or food processor and mix it until it turns into a paste/sauce.
In the final part of the process, heat about a teaspoon and a half of olive oil in a small pot and throw in the onions. Let them cook until translucent and then pour in the roasted red pepper paste. Add a tablespoon or so of water and turn the heat to low. Once it simmers, take it off the stove and season with salt and pepper.