Of singing lessons and teachers who can’t take the heat!

bhutte ke khees bhutte ke khees

“Now flap your arms and walk around the room.”


“Now raise your arms above your head and make a buzzing noise like a bee as you go around the rom once more.”

A kindergarten class in progress you think? You’re waay off!

Hubby, being a pretty good singer and having been pushed by wife who cannot sing into restarting a band  in his midlife, has decided  to go in for voice training classes to… limber up. He casts around and finds a visiting teacher. A French-Canadian lady who’s here for a few months and starts off lessons. So she asks him during the first session about whether his family sings too. He can’t hide the facts (what if she says bring your wife along and we can all sing together?!!) and so says no, my wife thinks she’s the worst singer in the world!

The teacher’s teacherly pride is aroused – she announces, “There is no one in the world who cannot sing – ask her to come and I will train her !”

Husband comes back and relates this conversation to me. I am thrilled -obviously she’s a very wise woman who knows something that I have secretly suspected all along – that inside me is an MS Subbalakshmi just waiting to be discovered!

And so, next morning, we get ready half an hour earlier than we need to – music lessons are serious stuff, after all! And then begins this thing about walking around a room humming, flapping one’s wings, buzzing and so on. I love drama so I’m quite happy to add a twirl or two and pirouette as we flap and prance around the room – a class of two people – husband and me! Hubby not so happy as he’s a bit self-conscious – not at all proper for a corporate type to be jumping around like a frog and buzzing like a bee! But he puts up with it.

We do this for a while and then she says, now sing a note. And takes off on a “laaaaaaaaaaaa… ”

Husband takes a deep breath and is about to start his “laaa… ” but I am quicker on the uptake and go “laaa… aaa… aaa… splutter… ahem… laa” obviously hitting the wrong note!

Teacher and husband are stunned into silence. But I have my eyes closed in concentration and so take a deep breath to continue “LAAAA… aaa… AAA… “ and can’t see their faces – frozen in shock! After a while, it sinks in that it’s only my voice and that there’s supposed to be two voices. So I open the blinkers and grin at them happily. I have done my first vocal exercise!

The class stutters to a halt after that – the teacher feeling a bit faint (in the heat, she says!)

We go home and i am FULL of my class to anyone who will listen. Two days later, I am ready – again bright and early for the next class. We get a message saying the teacher is unwell and class is cancelled.

A week later, we get news she has moved… to Beijing! And thence back to Canada!

Too bad – she missed a chance to create another MS!

Corny story – you say? Every word is as it actually happened!

Like this corny delicacy from the centre of India – Madhya Pradesh’s famous…


  • Frozen corn – 1/2 kg. (the original called for grating fresh corn but I am cooking in Madras in the summer – so frozen corn it shall be!
  • Green chilies – 3-4 – minced
  • Ginger – 1″ piece – grated
  • Jeera/cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Asafoetida/hing– 1 generous pinch
  • Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
  • Milk – 1 cup
  • Salt
  • Pepper – 1/4 tsp (optional)
  • Ghee – 1 tbsp


  • Grated fresh coconut – 2 tbsp
  • Chopped coriander – 2 tbsp
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Instead of grating the ginger and micning green chilies, one short cut i use all the time is pulse them together along with the jeera in the small mixer jar.

Pulse half the frozen corn also separately in another jar and set aside.

Heat the ghee in a saucepan and add the jeera-cumin-green chili mixture. Add the asafoetida and turmeric.

Add the ground corn and the whole corn kernels. Add the milk, salt and pepper and cook without a lid on a low flame, stirring occassionally till corn is tender. You may need to add a little water if it becomes too dry.

Take off, let it cool a little, sprinkle over the coconut and coriander and lemon juice.

Remember to serve with a smile – who knows when your talents in the singing line may be discovered and you might just be serving a Rehman!