‘We have a child who refuses to tell us his name or address or where he lives. Will the parents please come and identify him and pick him up?”
…comes the announcement over the public address system at a park where a balloon ascent is in the process of happening. The park is milling with families who’ve brought piles of little kids along to watch something so exciting.
“What careless parents to be losing a child and not even teaching him his own name? We would never do such an irresponsible thing!” they congratulate themselves. In the same mood, they turn around to pat the two chamathu (well behaved with overtones of smugness!) kids on the head… and realise that one, the littler one, who’s just over three years old, is missing!
Much running hither and thither happens with recriminations being hurled all around in all the anxiety.
“Where did you leave him?”
“Oh my god, I can’t trust you to look after him for a minute before you lose him!”
“I knew I shouldn’t have left him with you!” and more of the same kind of thing while the older sibling, about seven, proffers helpful suggestions thusly:
“Maybe he’s gone up in the balloon?”
The mother has to be revived with smelling salts!
The announcement is repeated. Realisation dawns.
“Oh my god, that’s our kid!” shrieks the mom, realising that it’s their kid who’s been taught never to tell a stranger anything about himself – address or even his name! The rigmarole of identification over, the child is re-programmed to tell a guy in a blue uniform with a badge on his chest at least his name if he ever gets lost!
The older brother of course, has the last word. “Why didn’t he just tell them your name?” he asks the mother – with the irrefutable logic of kids the world over!
Reminded me of being taught the same thing several decades ago by my mother. So, one evening, as I walk home from school (we live in a colony full of houses), an elderly gentleman, who’s pottering around in his garden and generally watching the world go by (yep, people actually did that kind of thing those days without feeling guilty about it! You think they landed from Mars or something??), hails me and offers me a rose from the garden. I remember all the strictures and, frightened out of my wits, scramble home as fast as my legs will carry me!
Tell my mother about it later and describe the house where this happened. She laughs and says it’s one of her patients but never mind, I did the right thing! Oops!
Thankfully, the kid, despite his many misadventures, did grow up safe and did not go up in smoke like this tofu dish did!
SMOKED TOFU WITH A SOFRITAS, GRILLED CORN AND PEPPERS
- 2 slabs of tofu – 400 gms – sliced thick
- A large flat saucepan with a grilled lid and a domed lid
- Wood chips – a handful
- Tea leaves – 2 tbsp
- Ghee – 1 tsp
- Red capsicum – 2
- Tomatoes – 2
- Garlic – 3-4 flakes
- Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp
- Cumin powder – 1 tsp
- Honey – 2 tbsp
- Olive oil – 2 tbsp
- Soya sauce – 2 tbsp
- Cracked pepper – 1/2 tsp
Mix together the marinading ingredients and let the tofu slabs soak in it for an hour.
Set the pan with the wood chips and tea leaves on the stove top. Set the chips on fire by pouring a few drops of ghee on top and lighting it. The flame will die down and it will satrt smoking. Place the tofu on the grill and cover with the domed lid. Let it smoke for about 4-5 minutes and remove. Cut into chunks about 1 cm square.
FOR CORN AND ROASTED VEGETABLES
- 3 cobs corn
- Assorted vegetables – carrots, potatoes, beets – for roasting
- Some of the marinade left from the tofu – about 1/2 cup
Grill corn on the fire till charred. Rub a slice of lemon with red chili powder and salt over the corn. Remove the seeds with a knife. Mix with the tofu.
Chunk the vegetbales, pour over the marinade and roast in the oven, covered with a foil for 20 minutes. Remove foil and roast for a further ten minutes till tender.
Serve with a bed of brown rice or quinoa, topped with tofu and the grilled corn and vegetables.
Make the ascent – in the balloon, I meant!