My phone beeped; a text saying she had just reached the city.
As usual I always followed a different process than that mentioned on the cover. I added the spice blend first and let the water boil a little more…
Another beep told me she was in the cab.
I took the noodle cake out, cracked it in half and allowed it to bathe itself in the little hot water bath I had prepared for it…
A call; she was caught in traffic and confused. I suppressed a smile, it was still the same, the sense of direction. But her voice sounded different- mellow, sweet, calm, mature.
I opened the cover of the sauce pot. It was ready, perfectly cooked, all veges refreshed after months in silly sous-vide packs, the noodles all ‘al-dante’ as the Italians would say (right to the bite). My bowl soon got filled with the steaming mix and the fork was being faithful in helping me slurp the saucy floury threads without dribbling the sauce all over me. I finished, washed my bowl and utensils, kept them on the drier…
My door bell rang. And there she stood.
The first things I noticed were the first things I remembered. The doe-like eyes- full of life, twinkly with a hint of innocent mischief; the smile – all natural, free, warm. That cute nose, not pointed unlike most, but a sweet little round…a reindeer nose and those ears, studded with little blue stones, they were just different, set perfectly against a backdrop of the jet black hair; there it was, the hair, raven black and falling shoulder length in crazy curls, they seemed to have a life of their own. It was this hair that had, back then made her a ‘namesake’…
Packed in the yellow plastic cover, the curly white floury threaded cake and the vacuum packed masala blend, who would ever forget the ‘snack’ of our childhood- the maggi noodles? Over the years the flavors had changed, yet it was still the same old maggi noodles, an unchanged eternal part of our metamorphosis from childhood to the adults that we are today. The commercial’s challenge of two minutes was always in vain as it took seven minutes (and am not kidding, as a kid I used to count), until I would finally get the steaming bowl of noodles in my hands and five minutes till they went into my tummy and a few seconds till I gave a satisfying lip smacking burp. Even now, a small part of me desperately craved for those noodles despite being drowned in a world of exotic ingredients, international cuisines, enigmatic tastes and dining experiences.
I had never forgotten, had I? Was I actually craving for ‘Maggi’? I had no time to wonder all that when my stomach did a weird back-flip, a wave of warmth rushed over me mingled with an aroma of dove-washed hair and notes of an Adidas perfume as I found myself returning the hug.
Tedious thing it would have been to eat Maggi one noodle at a time. Those things were meant to be gobbled down; But this ‘Maggi’ wasn’t. I wanted to savor every moment, every second at a time….
….The Rockefeller Christmas tree seemed more christmasy this year or may be it was just her laugh that added the necessary festive mood as we strolled down to watch the City’s Christmas Spectacular Opera in the Radio-Theatre.
… The City never seemed so full of life, which was actually weird, it being one of the busiest of cities in the world. One look at the sparkle in her eyes, a quick hug and I knew the reason to feel so alive.
…… It was just a simple compliment about my tie, but it was still prized well above the branded tag of ‘Geoffrey Beene’ – it was priceless thing for me though to others it may have been a fleeting comment as we entered the Cafetaria for dinner at 4AM. Her face glowed in the candlelight, her skin smoother than the white grape martini trickling down my throat. May be I am in a dream I thought as the candle flickered, I couldn’t still believe she was here, after all these years, yet again. I just wanted to gaze at her, thinking of the past and the present between us…a lot had changed and yet we were the same. We had known each other well, too well, but just now I was getting the feeling that we are meeting for the first time. The Cafetaria was crowded, noisy, but I felt serene, a nice sense of calm, of completeness as I gazed into her dark brown eyes, the cute smile, the delicate-warm lips…
..And I felt the delicate warmth spreading, as I felt the kiss. Either the Absinthe was at work or the dark, shady atmosphere of the City’s upscale dive bar but it seemed as if nothing mattered except that instance. It wasn’t just love, nor just passion, but it was all those years lost, it was all those times spent back then, an exchange of the said and the unsaid, of the hope of present and future all blended into one wondrous, magical moment; our minds had shut themselves to the world, the lips were playing their own music, and our stomach had turned to nothing but an empty space full of fluttering butterflies… we were simply drowned in that frame of time. I blamed the MaiTai for hallucinations, but was glad to find her next morning, lying down on the bed, silently listening to the music watching the sun rise through the window.
I looked at her as she made coffee for me…
Life has it’s own way of cooking up a unique recipe, and it takes it’s own time; it adds it’s own experiences, seasons them with different moments and garnishes them with unexpected surprises that are actually meant to happen.
…back then we were close, simple things added joy like no day was complete without us calling each other, or exchanging at least a dozen of texts, emailing about absolutely nothing and long rides to and fro simply to drop her or pick her up from her home. But despite those young promises and assurances of novices that we were, there had been a silent gap of all these years, of countless experiences, so much so that we were two different people, different personalities and yet when we met, it seemed we knew each other. Life had taken a long time cook this recipe, a long time to give me this ‘bowl of maggi’.
I remember I used to feel uniquely happy when I finally got a bowlful of maggi in my hands. I used to allow the warmth of the bowl spread on to my palms and then gulp them down in minutes while watching some cartoon on the TV or a flick on the computer. I was feeling the same happiness, though its magnitude was enormous, and I was welcoming the warmth of her as we sat with our hands entwined, in utter silence, savoring the moment; there was no TV or a computer in front of us but the towering empire state with it’s tri-colored lighting and the reflection of the city’s blinding lights shimmering in the Hudson. I held her hand tightly; This ‘bowl of maggi’ had taken a long time to cook I thought, not seven minutes, it had taken SEVEN years….and I wasn’t about to gulp THAT down so soon.