My Uncle…The Chef
I had an uncle who loved to visit doctors! He was 75, with grey hair, a walrus moustache and huge sideburns. To look at him, you would think he was a major in the army. But, actually, he was an accomplished ladies hairdresser who made it good in life. He retired owning a chain of prosperous hairdressing salons! He was a rich man. As a rich man, he wanted to savor life. To savor life, he felt he needed to be healthy. To be healthy, he needed to visit doctors!
Just as other retirees frequented clubs, my uncle frequented doctors. Doctors were terrified of him because if they pronounced him healthy (which he was), he would be upset!
On Mondays, he would go to an eye doctor. He had about five eye doctors in tow. He would visit each one once in five weeks. So, each doctor thought he was seeing an eye specialist once a month. Each one assured him, he had no signs of cataract and didnot need glasses.
On Tuesdays, he would visit the physiotherapist. Again he had about five physiotherapists in tow. They massaged his back and joints as he was afraid of developing old age aches and pains. So, each physiotherapist thought he was doing a maintenance massage once every five week.
On Wednesdays, he went to a heart specialist…five different ones on five different weeks. Each one did an ECG and assured him that he had no heart issues. Each time he went with a complaint of a palpitating heart. However, his pulse, blood pressure and heartbeat all had no aberrations from the healthy norm.
On Thursday, he went to a general physician to get an okay on his blood sugar. Again, he went to five different physicians five weeks. On Friday, he went to an Ear Nose Throat (ENT) specialist. Again his five weeks were distributed among five of them.
On weekends, he didnot visit doctors but the golf course and his hair salon, where they waxed his moustache to fine pinpoints and trimmed his semi-bald pate. He also went through pedicures and manicures for the flawless look. And, then there was a visit to a tailor … From suits to cravats,everything was custom made as were his shoes.
This uncle had only one child, the beautiful, sultry Smita. She was a photographer by profession and the apple of my uncle’s eye. He doted on her. When Smita touched the ripe old age of twenty two, her father worried about her matrimonial prospects. When he liked a candidate to fill in the position of his future son-in-law, Smita was sure to disapprove of him. When at twenty four Smita still remained fancy free and unattached to a man, he decided that he would try to woo over one of her male colleagues, many of who visited her home. Smita was passionate about photography as he was about doctors. He decided to win them over with his culinary skills. The logic was most of these boys would be hungry after their bouts of photography and would be attracted to her home with good cooking…free,tasty food.
Perhaps, my opinion differed a little about my uncle’s culinary skills, which he himself rated rather highly. His passion number two was cooking.
My uncle believed in authentic flavors. A potato needed to taste like a potato, and not a spicy potato. His meat had to have the authentic smell of unwashed animals. Julius Caesar might have made him the chef for his prime troops that set out to conquer the world…but a restaurant would go bankrupt if they hired him. Oblivious of weak-willed opinions, my uncle decided to cook his way to the heart of his intended son-in-law.
That Friday, when one of her colleagues came to drop Smita home after a photographic assignment, her father invited him to dinner. A hungry, lean, poor photographer is always willing to risk it. He accepted, unsuspectingly. My uncle outdid himself by cooking mince meat, a watery chicken stew and fish that smelt five days old.
The unsuspecting colleague took a heap of rice and a huge helping of all the delicacies revved up by my uncle’s culinary expertise. Smita told me, her colleague fell sick after a few bites, pleaded a sudden onset of diarrhea and made a run for the bathroom and then home, except the diarrhea sounded awfully like retching. He made it a point never to drop Smita home again.
The next candidate pleaded a sudden onset of gastric flu as he threw up on the plate.
Now, Smita’s colleagues took to dropping her at her gate and pleading appointments so that they wouldnot need to enter her home and be victims of my uncle’s gastronomic ‘delights’. My uncle was very disappointed. His scheme had not worked, despite his ‘fantastic’ cooking. He confided in me,”Boys nowadays have weak stomachs and do not appreciate gourmet cooking.”
Then, one day Smita met a young man, called Dipak, at a party. They fell head over heels in love. Dipak was a young interning doctor. Smita was scared to expose him to her father’s cooking and yet she wanted them to meet. Therefore, she invited him home in the afternoon, well after lunch and well before dinner. My uncle made him a potato sandwich dripping with butter and hot chocolate, both of which Dipak enjoyed.
Six months down the line, Dipak and Smita tied the knot.
To this day my uncle boasts of how his culinary skills wooed a fantastic husband for his daughter, and a doctor at that!
Eventually, he gave up his passion for visiting doctors for the pleasures generated by his baby grandson. Then, the only doctor who attended on him regularly was Dipak.