Of musicians who weren’t and chefs who were!

I’ve written earlier about my mother’s attempts to send me to what were called “vocal music” classes – all abortive. But these efforts of my mom’s were not all in vain – they instilled in me the overwhelming desire to learn music somehow! After listening for years to MS, Kishore, Balamurali and the like, I was fired with zeal – fed by the hopes of false prophets – in the form of various music teachers – who insisted that everyone could learn music! All I learnt over the years was that these people sometimes LIE!

Somewhere thereabouts of my fourteenth year of life, someone – must have been one more of the false prophet ilk – suggested to my mom that if Anu can’t sing – (understatement of the century ), why don’t you teach her an instrument?! Perfect, decided my mother, having rosy visions of me accompanying Pandit Ravi Shankar (even to talk of the two of us in the same breath is sacrilege – so I’m saying this very sotto voce!) maybe!

So we cast around and decided (visions of Vivaldi maybe?) that the violin it would be. Found a teacher close by and thus began a four year odyssey – to Armageddon! The teacher insisted I could play. I could – if someone else tuned the violin for me – I was near finger-perfect!

Distinguishing a “sa” from a “pa” was however a whole different matter altogether. The teacher would play and I’d stare at her intently, hoping her face would give away the note she was playing. She’d repeat the note again… and again… and again… I’d close my eyes in concentration and will myself to hear it, open my eyes and tentatively venture a “pa” or a “ma”, barely breathing out the syllable so that I could quickly turn it into something else depending on her facial expression – extreme pain to extreme shock was the range – sometimes it came out as a “sss… mmm… pa?”

It  was the teacher’s turn to close her eyes, to pray to the Buddha to give her both patience and compassion, I’m sure!! I may not have learnt much music but she became an evolved human being, thanks to me! I also became pretty good at reading people’s faces!

There were many repercussions… my room, where I practised diligently every evening, shared a wall with my mom’s clinic. High up on this wall was an architectural feature of those days – a little window… thanks to which my “music” practice sessions wafted in clearly and cruelly to the ears of the patients and their attendants! My mom shut down the private practice soon after that – it dawned on me decades later that maybe i contributed to it… in some small part??! The patients were too polite to say anything, but must have prayed fervently that there wasn’t a long waiting line at Doctor-gaaru’s clinic! My brothers, on the other hand – were loud and vocal – “Why can’t you stop those lessons??! I’m going to fail my exams, thanks to her!!!”

There are a many more stops on this musical journey of mine – but I’ll keep those stories for later!

Right now, all I’m going to say is that if the parents had had the sense to invest in sending me for culinary lessons rather than music lessons, who knows, I might have become the Adriano Zumbo of desserts!!! Like this quick and easy, yummy but healthy…


  • Full cream milk -preferable – 4 cups
  • Instant oats – powdered in the mixie to a smooth powder – 5 tbsp
  • Sugar – 6-7 tsp or substitute – I use 3 -4 sachets of Splenda
  • MTR instant badam milk mix – 4 tbsp
  • Saffron strands – a pinch
  • Slivers of badam/pista (optional) – 1 tbsp
  • Mango puree – 1 cup

Mix everything together (except saffron and mango) and heat for a few minutes till the oats are cooked. 4-5 minutes at the most. Or microwave on high for 3 minutes, stirring once in between.

Add the saffron strands, mix well and cool, stirring constantly – otherwise milk gets that yucky skin (meegada/edu) on top. Add the mango puree and incorporate.

Pour into kulfi moulds and set overnight in the freezer. You can use silicone muffin cups too. Or and this is the cheat’s way – just freeze it in the bowls in which you intend to serve it!

And voila, your quick, low cal (well, at least as far as desserts go!)  dessert for the summer!