Of covering up disasters with aplomb!

…so this friend of ours – a very busy advertising honcho, running a very busy ad firm, with a very busy schedule… you get the idea? Very busy guy… comes out of his flat on one very busy morning, hands and shoulders aweigh with lunchbag, camera bag, briefcase… his mind buzzing with… what else, very busy thoughts of the meeting ahead… with a very busy client… He gets into the lift and then as the lift makes its way down, notices a not-quite-so-busy guy, also in the lift, giving him weird looks…

Ignores him at first, then the looks get weirder, driving all the serious business of being busy out of our pal’s head – quite a task! “So what is this guy staring at? Smut on my nose?” and stares into the polished steel surface of the lift wall. No smut visible. Tentatively looks down to see if he’s got my daughter’s disease (blogged earlier – please see http://anuchenji.com/blog/yet-more-foot-mouth-tales) of missing shirt, etc. All in order. The busily creative mind is now seriously puzzled! Ennada idu? What on earth is this guy’s problem? Maybe I’m in the lift with a psychopath? Omg! All other busy thoughts are gone as he squeezes himself carefully into a corner… watching the other guy out of the corner of his eye for any sudden movements, in which he can quickly fling his lunchbox at him!

Then he wipes his glasses – on his shirt sleeve, of course. Were you seriously expecting a glasses wiper? And stares again intensely at the lift wall. Chin? Check. Nose? Check. Eyes? Check. Ears? Both in place. Specs? Sitting correctly on said ears. The gaze travels upwards. OOOOOooooh! Towel tied around head after washing LONG hair? Check! Definite OOPS moment!

Doing his best to give the impression that this was exactly the look that he had intended to convey all along and buster, you’d better watch out – thorthu (Kerala’s justly famous thin towels!) are going to be the next fashion statement, man, he nonchalantly gives his head a shake and pulls off the towel with a flourish. Thirty years in advertising have not been for nothing, right?

Sadly, the effect is slightly, just slightly – ruined by the towel getting stuck in the hair at the back of the neck (problems of waist-long, curly locks!) and eliciting an ouch from self! Also by the spray which splatters the other poor guy – whose turn it is now to shrink into the corner!  Thankfully, the lift has reached the ground floor by now and our man manages to swagger off confidently – like I said, advertising is not for nothing!

Carrying off stuff is basically the name of the game – these things happen because you planned it so! According to my husband, this is the only lesson they teach you at B-school! My response is that engineers, poor chaps, don’t have the panache to carry things off! Of course, he’s an engineer!

The queen of coverups, of coure, was my own heroine – Julia Child. She drops a turkey that she’s slaved over for hours just before serving it – at the dinner table where a bunch of guests are waiting – for Thanksgiving dinner and… picks it up and announces, “Oh thank goodness. I’ll just bring my spare turkey in!” before whisking it off to the kitchen, doing some cosmetic stuff to it and bringing it back gaily to the table! Vive la Meryl Streep!

Though there are some disasters that it’s difficult to cover up, no matter how much panache you can summon up! Like this once, when K wanted to make a fancy tomato shorba for dinner for the parents to welcome us home after a holiday and the mixie exploded! We were scraping tomato puree off the ceiling for weeks!

Here’s how to make and eat your shorba without having to lick it off the ceiling!


  • Very ripe tomateos – 8 large – chunk.
  • Garlic – 3-4 flakes
  • Bay leaf – 1
  • Mint leaves – 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp to garnish
  • Coriander- chopped – 2 tbsp + 1 tbsp for garnish
  • Sugar – 1 tsp
  • Cloves – 2
  • Cinnamon – 1″ stick
  • Dried coriander seeds – 1 tsp
  • Red chili pwd – 1/2 tsp
  • Salt
  • Ghee – 1 tsp
  • Jeera/cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp

Cook the tomatoes with the garlic, dried coriander seeds, 2 tbsp coriander, bay leaf , cinnamon, cloves and chili powder.

Once tomatoes are softened, let cool. Puree in the mixer to a smooth puree.

Strain out the puree. Shorba is best served silky smooth so pips and skin need to be removed.

In another pan, bring back to the boil, adding sugar and salt. You may need to increase the sugar if the tomatoes are very sour.

Heat the ghee in a small saucepan, add the cumin seeds and let them splutter. Pour over the shorba. Serve in bowls, garnish with coriander and mint leaves.

And if there’s any mess, clean it up with the thorathu that you were using to dry your hair!

P.S: This is very thin soup – just like all those excuses we made above!