OF skinned knees and cycling lessons!

“Remember, just keep going straight. There’s only one large rock – and you’re NOT in line with it. That’s all you’ve got to avoid. C’mon, you’ve got your balance, just keep the handlebars straight and you CAN’T go wrong” – encouraging words from my friend Neeroo – trying to teach me to cycle. 

“Yes, I can do it. I can do it… i can do it… ” deep breathing… count to three… push off… and head straight for the ONE large rock on a 40-feet wide road with NO ONE else on it! BANG! CRASH! THUD! OUCH! Owowoowowow – that hurts! Skinned my knee (still bear the scars!); My unsympathetic friend nearly falls over, laughing… makes me get up and go at it again again and again until that magic moment when you’re FLYING on wheels! Thanks, Neeroo, for teaching me to fly!

I came to cycling rather late in life for someone my generation – didn’t get on to it till i was almost eighteen. My brothers Anand and Arvind had got their cycles when they were still quite small but for whatever reason (most likely their budget ran out!) my parents did not get me a cycle too. Also possibly because my school was within walking distance of home whereas the boys’ school was some miles away. I finally got on to a cycle only because i wanted a bike – a scooter. 

With the clear gender-differentiated roles of those days, it was the “boys’ job” to got to the mandi – the wholesale vegetable market every Sunday morning armed with the princely sum of TEN rupees and come back with their saddlebags – ooops, cycle bags – loaded with veggies. For this sum, we got a whole week’s supply of vegetables for a family with a large appetite – the list went something like this:

  • 10 kg potatoes
  • 7 kg onions
  • 5 kg tomatoes
  • 1-2 kg each of beans, carrots, bhindi (okra), eggplant, drumsticks, gourds of many kinds
  • Several bunches spinach,  coriander, curry leaves, ginger, green chilies etc.

TEN bucks!! I’m going to now be that boring older generation person who grumbles about the 20 bucks i have to pay for ONE measly bunch of coriander!

Potatoes in any form were and are a favourite for all of us – including the plain boiled variety with salt and pepper. Come to think, have you ever met anyone at all who doesn’t like spuds?

One of my weekly staples at home is new potatoes – in many forms – as a roasted South Indian curry with curry powder (koora podi – but that will be another post), as a salad with mayonnaise, just tossed with Mediterranean herbs or what we have today for lunch – a simple roast baby potato curry.


  • Baby potatoes (somehow the word baby here makes feel like a cannibal!) – 1 kg – scrubbed well and halved.
  • Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
  • Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Onion – 1 – chopped
  • Tomato – 2 chopped
  • Cracked pepper – 1 tsp
  • Minced green chil1es – 2
  • Asafoetida – 1 large pinch
  • Oil (or if you are feeling sinfully indulgent) – butter – 2 tbsp
  • Salt

Pressure cook the potatoes with the turmeric for one whistle. Switch off while they are still firm. Let cool and then leave them in the frig overnight without covering or in the freezer for 1/2 an hour – This dries them out a bit so they don’t fall apart.

Heat the oil or butter in a LARGE flat saucepan. Add the mustard seeds. When they pop, add the asafoetida, green chiles and onions and fry for a minute. Add the tomatoes and fry for a couple of minutes more. Add the potatoes and the salt and roast slowly without a lid for about 20-30 minutes till crisp. Add the cracked pepper and mix well. You don’t really need a mealtime to eat this – snack on it, eat it as a “sidish 😉 ” with rice or generally because you’ve lost weight and need to put on “personality” as they say in our beautiful country!! “Manchi (meaning good in Telugu) personality, boss” usually refers to a fat sod!!


One Reply to “OF skinned knees and cycling lessons!”

  1. Re. The market, I mean Mandi order, we had ADAI MARKETS where we had to buy 21/2 kg at a time. Nothing less unless hou befriended the seller and begged for less. No cars or money for autos. We had to lug this weight.

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