Sunday, June 21, 2009

they say time may give you more than your poor bones could ever take

Last Friday, I had one of those days that made me quite grateful to have dropped out of Corporate America. I've never been particularly ungrateful about it, but last Friday was different. Some truck had tipped over on the freeway, and I was stuck in traffic for nearly three hours (this drive usually takes me about 30 minutes). When this happens, and you are sitting in gridlocked, stand-still traffic, even the calmest person starts to develop hypertension and smoke coming out of their ears.

But when I finally got to clinic, it took about five minutes to get into the swing of things, and I promptly forgot all about the miserable morning commute. When I was working for The Man, I would have spent the better part of that three hour drive contemplating whether I ought to take the next exit and simply return home. And I would have spent the better part of my work day annoyed by my late start.

It's obvious, of course, that this is because I did not really enjoy what I was doing for a living, and therefore all of those external forces and factors could easily encroach on the tolerability of my work day. Now it's so much simpler. No matter what is going on, when I get to clinic, I feel very much there and not much distracts me.

That last Friday, when I left clinic, I was feeling chipper even, until I was sitting in a ridiculous rush hour traffic jam on the way home. Since I've always had a soft spot for Falling Down, I decided I had better decompress before things got out of hand. I took a very early exit and spent an hour strolling around the local co-op, at which I bought overpriced cardamom pods. Yes, they were overpriced, and as an Indian and as a Guju in particular, I felt a measure of shame buying them. But I had decided it was my indulgence for the weekend.

Sort of. When I got home, I fixed myself a generous tumbler of Grey Goose and Hibiscus Tonic (it seemed like a good idea when I was at the co-op). Then I set to making the cardamom ice cream. It reminded me of childhood and home to some extent- the smell of the milk and cream scalding, gently crushing the cardamom pods and letting them steep, the fragrance of it as I cooked it into a custard. But it also reminded me of being an adult and having my own sense of home. When those smells were present in my childhood home, there was usually a frenzy and panic because my mother was frantically trying to do a hundred things in preparation for some large celebration. Instead, the scents wafted into the kitchen while I sipped a cocktail and erased all the annoyance of having spent over four hours in a car in one day. I felt very calm, and the process seemed very much mine, instead of me trying to reenact some fondly recalled memory.

And I got this out of it:

in the evening on a friday night

The picture, due to my horrible camera and photography skills, does not do it justice, but I was particularly pleased with the result because a) the flavor is very much like kulfi while the texture is that of ice cream rather than the icy consistency that kulfi can have, b) I had a nice buzz going on while the preparations were underway and c) I pretty much made up the recipe myself. These tiny ideas of mine don't always turn out so well, but when they do, it encourages me to keep tinkering. We'll see if that winds up being a good thing in the long run.

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