Sunday, September 14, 2014

Another virginity lost

Sitting with a tissue roll as I break for a blog - while working on the machine - in the post-midnight hours can only raise questions, or worst, devious imaginations. What brought about that need, however, is as un-guessable as anything else. It also marks a first. This week has had its share of firsts - what, but novelty, can make it more bearable.

First the aforementioned case of the tissue roll. It is for the eyes, and the nose. Both of them are welling up with fluid contents of their respective glands. No, I'm not crying like four days back. The trigger today is this tropical nibblet, called the green chilli, or hari mirch, which makes its debut on my tongue, after 25+ years of conscious, cognizant existence.

In my previous states of cognizance, I have kept my distance from Mirchi. Even minor doses in my food have made me a spectacle - going red, breaking into sweat, tears, and hiccups, feeling as if the scalp is under a scalpel. (take it like a gentleman, don't I?) The after effects are worse - ask that to a stomach and a colon nuked over the years on Punjabi, South Indian, and Maharashtrian cuisine. Soon, I'll be asking girlfriend to express her silent disagreement (or disappointment) through serving me chilli-laden food - the red flush on my face will be the dawn of realization that I've been wrong or a jerk at some point in the near past.

Yes, it is that Mirchi that I decided to have today, in whole. In the past coupla years, exposure to diverse cuisine has weaned me off several food taboos I had as a child (continuing into maturity). I used to be a pretty choosy eater (or rather, pretty choosy hater) - never the green leafy stuff (aka palak - spinach), never the gooey pumpkins (aka kaddoo), never the yucky-looking eggplant (aka brinjal, or baingan), never the sickening golden gram (aka mung dal), or that yellow slurry (aka jholi, or kadhi). And never ever that horrible tounge-churning bitter gourd (aka karela - which has come to be a synonym for yuck/blergh).

To skip forward to the present day.. Karela was taken up as a challenge a mere 10 days back, and a sick experience followed in decimating a complete meal's serving of Karela on the plate. My mouth twisted and body twitched so much that I could've passed for a mental patient. But finish, I did, marking a food debut, and establishing a complete course coverage as far as meals of Indian subcontinent (and Chinese/European to some extent) were concerned - anything served on the plate is now okay. I weaned off my taboos in an active manner - by directly exposing my palette to the experience.

Mirchi, then remained the one thing on the table that I was afraid of. Its accidental servings, or mixing in the food, remained the stuff of my nightmares. Until today. I've picked some unusual battle scars over the years, and today I chose another battle - on the dining table.
Old folks around were exasperated to see me making a spectacle of myself, a superficial valiance that muddles my justification to leading this sincere life. But as they say, ignorance is bliss. "And bliss leads to blisters," Ma said - she anticipated I'll have a bruised oral cavity by the end of this experimenting. Ignoring even this wisdom, I continued ahead.

Here I am now, cooling down. The bite had its sting, as expected. I started chomping on the Mirchi, scattering its contents all around, covering the tongue and lining in toxic juices. Initially, it didn't feel so bad. Then it hit. Involuntary throat muscle contractions aka hiccups broke out. They made me tick violently, with the periodic precision of a clock. Everything was burning. It got worse with THE FIRST GULP. I was zoning out and back. Soon, tears welled in the eyes, which had turned red amd sore by then. Soon, even the nose started running. This all inside 3 minutes.

Prompty, half a liter of water, a cup of banana ice cream, amd a cup of fruit custard were lapped up. The sensation subsided, but not completely. I kept panting, ambling listlessly about the house, trying not to make a scene, like a diseased dog. Then more water. And some more. And more. Finally the sensation became tolerable.

Call that my weekly nirvana. Feels nice not being a virgin anymore.