Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Should I learn to cook?

"Sowmya you've become quite a big girl now, its about time you learnt how to cook"

"What? She can't even make sambhar! *gasp*  under section infinity , the make-life-hell-for-college-girls-on-holiday clearly states that any Homo Sapien with XX chromosome in the DNA ought to be accomplished in 64 arts! * Kaliyug is surely coming  look* "

My Mind Voice: "Bet you can't write a prim's algorithm program on your own"
Actual voice: "I make Maggi" giving the I-can-live-on-instant-food-all-my-life look.

Seriously, cooking is SUCH a big debate if you're a girl. There are very few girls my age who are as ignorant about the kitchen as I am.

For example, this is a conversation I had with a guy at my house when I was twelve.

Friend: "I hear something sizzling in the kadai"
Me: (Head bent over congruence in triangles) "Maybe popcorn?"
Friend: (stares at complete disbelief much to my blissful ignorance) "Don't you know the difference between a pop and a sizzle?"
Me: "Of course I do. I wasn't paying attention."
Friend: "You said dinner was idly right? I think aunty's making chutney."
Me: "I thought you make chutney with a mixie"
Soon enough that rickety deafening mixie started whirring planting a smug cheshire cat smile on my face. Promptly we came literally to blows about whether or not a kadai is used in making a chutney.

In case there exists a soul who did not predict the ending, I just got mightily jolted by the nattamai (panchayat head) - my mom, that you do, indeed use the kadai.

I  usually just sing my own sweet tune. My mom learnt how to cook only at 21 and I still have two years to go AND she's such an amazing cook that I'm not really convinced I need to learn. However, nowadays the nudges have certainly increased. And my fair Libran twin (And you thought only Gemini had a twin, right?) started badgering my mind to reconsider my stance and strive for that perfect balance.

This dialogue is priceless. If you haven't heard it as a girl, I will be very very surprised. "There is just one thing I want to say - whether you are a boy or a girl, you ought to learn to cook".

I simply don't buy the argument. For one thing, the only times I've seen guys being made to learn to cook is if they are vegetarian and are leaving abroad. Or if they are non-vegetarian with the no-pork no-beef issues and going abroad. I see absolutely no problem with learning how to cook much later.

While I let the steam cool, I've been hinting that I wanted to actually give the other side a ear. After all,

எப்பொருள் யார்யார்வாய்க் கேட்பினும் அப்பொருள்
மெய்ப்பொருள் காண்ப தறிவு.

Gist: Consider everyone's opinions for that nugget of wisdom hidden in it.

Fundamentally, the strong point gently pushing me forward on my culinary journey is the fact that I help my dear mother. One fine Thursday, when she was sick, I put leave, made Maggi for my dad, reminded him about the cellphone, put the geyser, took the milk and newspaper, sent the laundry for iron (You may think this is simple, but from a princess incapable of folding her clothes and woefully forgetful about making her own bed, this is a LOT!) . When he left for office, he was half-amused and half-proud. The best climax was when my mom came out at ten in the morning and said, "Wake up daddy for office".

I was so happy to let her rest and keep things smoothly running for my dad even if I had to miss college. (I unfortunately woke up at seven without my human alarm). My mom was also grateful to have me at home to run little errands. But something kept making me feel guilty. As she wasn't well, she couldn't possibly have Maggi. So she had to get up and make idly for herself. I would have gladly liked to do that for her. This wouldn't have happened if I knew how to cook.

Another reason is, there is one thing, above all, that I cherish. And that is independence. As a woman, independence is a treasure. A treasure guarded by the dragons of self-esteem and skill. And however I twist my kaleidoscope of ideas, cooking is a fundamental portion of the fodder to those dragons.

Well all said and done, next star pupil is going to be the kitchen king. Or queen. I'd be asked to demonstrate my cooking! At every relative's house as well. Because, of course once I learn it, I will be amazing at it. After all, anyone can cook.

That's very right, I just sink to the floor in front of anybody, let alone cook something for someone. Oh dear! 

So we'll dump this silly little thought thread and continue with our work?

No, I don't think so. Come on, I never thought you'd be chicken. So what if I make a fool of myself? I'd rather be helpful and stupid than perfect and dumb. And I think, I would have taken this decision even if I were a boy.

Oh how I hate it when you are right. It would have been so much cooler if I had been a boy and learnt to cook?

That can't be helped. Don't you remember you wouldn't admit to yourself that you actually adored pink but would never buy pink. Just because of your feminism.

Yup. Then we decided true feminism is doing what your heart wants with mental consent and being brave enough to be true to it.


But am not really sure if that's what I want to do. Hmph. I hate being so nice and doing the right thing. 

I'm proud of you.

You seem to have happily made the decision for me. I still don't think it's that necessary. After all mom falling ill is such a rare occurrence.

 I've had it. Here's the verdict.


I will learn to cook.
But only idly, sambhar,chutney,rice and rasam. No more. No less. Its enough to keep me and any sick person happy for now.

Oh and by the way, I've realised that this has given me a new weapon against those mokkai keep-women-in-their-place sort of people.


  1. Wow! Considering the amount of thought you seem to have given the issue and the kind of fierce debate it raised in your head, learning to cook those simple items would have taken hardly anytime in comparison. But, this is your own idiosyncratic mental process that makes you Sowmya. Dragons-fodder-treasure-skill, Nice analogy ,that one. A very good post, Sowmya.

  2. Thank you so much Nisha. I really enjoyed that dragons too. I was thinking no one would read such a long post. You made my day :-)

  3. Hey really good one,dont worry it's kind of the same picture at my home too :)

  4. Lolz. Good post! Similar situation occurs very often in my house too but I've decided to learn to cook only in microwave oven and electric cooker! :D

  5. Join the club gals :-) and thanks for reading the whole post!

  6. haha!! really nice!! :D!! so you are gonna temme a lotta stories for the next two weeks to keep me going in that lab :P!! Good work!! (i you don't know who this is - vasiya :D)