May 22, 2006

Cream tea, please

An over-Blytonized childhood, one recalls, had elevated Cream Tea to near-mythical status in one’s fledgeling mind. It was, clearly, a beverage that went well with thrilling holiday adventures and all’s-well-that-ends-well boarding-school feasts. Something that caused every self-respecting juvenile to squeal with uncontainable delight and generally proclaim that things were as jolly as they possibly could be. One gathered that it was also drunk by distinguished old gentlemen at idyllic country manors and by fashionable ladies at the Royal Ascot.

And thus, over the years, one had built up this mental image of a frothy, buttery version of our chai, perhaps with liberal lashings of crème fraiche and a cherry on top. An entirely rich and wholesome affair. It became one’s personal ambition, people, to taste a cup of this sinfully posh, delightfully British indulgence.

So you will appreciate that the happiness knew no bounds when it was learnt, at a certain point in the mid-nineties, that the Father had been posted to London. Practically the first thing the young One did upon touchdown was to walk into this café, a nice and typically English teahouse-type place, and proudly say what one had been dying to say for years and years.

“Cream tea, please.”

And then one took one’s place at a table, and waited with what is generally referred to as Bated Breath.

And presently, people, it arrived. A tray that held a) a pot of boiling water with a couple of sad, soggy Earl Grey teabags dangling within (okay, so teabags are supposed to be soggy, at least when they’re inside boiling water, but there’s just no excuse for being sad)*, b) an empty cup with accompanying saucer and c) a plate with a couple of scones on it. But where, in the name of Frederick Algernon Trotteville, was that frothing cuppa, that Legendary Beverage?

After much argument with the waiter (one could argue well for a twelve-year-old) it was ascertained that said Legendary Beverage constituted of precisely the items lying on one’s table.

And then, gentle reader, there was nothing much to be done. One took a bite out of the scone. And poured oneself some Earl Grey. And tried one’s best to enjoy one’s First Taste of Cream Tea. And ruminated on how some things sound so much better in books.

* One has made one’s feelings re. these matters amply clear previously.

May 15, 2006

Kin-dread spirit

It has recently been revealed to various distant relatives that one plans to make a trip to the Homeland in the near future. And it is remarkable how hitherto-unknown persons are seen to be crawling out of the very bark of the family tree to tactfully demand various gadget-type items from Singapore, apparently unaware of the fact that their local electronics store could sell them the same things at practically the same price in this liberalized age. One’s attempts to point out the above fact are met with vague and entirely unfathomable replies to the effect that items from phoren are generally “of better quality”.

Amongst said kinfolk you would find the young Distant Cousin, a stripling of great pestilentiality, who evidently burns with the need for an imported PDA* at the age of eleven. The ownership of such a device, one gathers, would allow him to reach the coveted position of Coolest Kid in School, presumably qualifying him to use terminally-hep exclamations like “yo!” as part of everyday conversation. (This is in addition to the yaar, pronounced with the r silent, which he already uses about five times every sentence).

Further, it is most disconcerting to note that many of said kinfolk appear to consider one an authority on all gizmos electronic. This, as the diligent reader of this blog will know, is patently untrue. Yes, one has admitted to owning and even using the occasional gadget. But that was a long time ago, people. We’ve all passed a lot of water under the bridge since then, as the Russian translator said.

In any case, while it remains to be seen when exactly the trip can take place, it is practically certain that the prodigal son shall return to the fold with suitcase upon suitcase full of megapixel digicams, DVD players, ultrasleek mobile phones and the like, with perhaps a small rucksack for his own meagre possessions. Whatever will the customs people say.

*That’s Personal Digital Assistant, people, not Public Display of Affection. Even he wouldn't dare.

Update: A change of some magnitude has been made to the design of this blog. The gentle reader, upon clicking the link called "Comments", shall now actually see the comments (as opposed to the entire permalinked page). One stuns oneself sometimes.

May 07, 2006

Grilled, sir?

It’s Thursday evening. The One walks into the local outlet of a sandwich chain. He is Majorly Hungry.

"Hello, sir. How can I help you, sir?"

[He is very pleased at being referred to as ‘sir’. Twice, too.] "Can I have one of those, please?" [points to large, healthy-looking sandwich]

"Certainly. What sort of bread would you like, sir?"

"Huh?" [note the poise, the skilful articulation]

"Would that be Honey Rolled Oat, Monterey Cheddar, Parmesan Oregano, or Hearty Italian sir?"

"Erm." [Valiantly attempts to give general impression of ruminating on the qualities of Hearty Italian vis-à-vis Monterey Cheddar, attempting to conceal the fact that his culinary knowledge begins and ends at the Gujarati Thali. Perhaps Monterey Cheddar tastes like overcooked khandvi.]

"Honey Rolled Oat bread for you, sir?"

"Yes. Honey Rolled Oat, please."

"Which sauce would you like, sir?"


"Would that be the Red Wine Vinaigrette, Spicy Mexican Chipotle or Delicious Honey Mustard sir?"

"Erm. The wine thing." [If it’s alcoholic, it can’t be that bad.]

Maybe they should call people inside in batches of four, make you sit in a big black chair while you order, and give you a two-minute time limit. After you’re done ordering, maybe a voice-over could say, "And at the end of that round, O haggard geek-type person, you have scored no points at all. Thank you very much!" *polite applause*