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The pursuit of the perfect...desert?

 Back in the good old days, when I had more hair on my head than growing out of my ears, there was a girl I dated briefly. She was on a quest to find the perfect coffee. Every weekend, she would visit a different café across Dubai , choose a Cappuccino and pen down her observations in her journal.

I had no such interest. Going out to a café became a thing in Mumbai roughly in 1996, when ‘Barista’ started popping up as a trendy chain of outlets across the city. Or maybe that was when I first began venturing out of my sheltered little pod because it was my first year of college. Until then, I hadn’t seen much of the city except a square kilometre around my house in Juhu which included my school, the doctor, the pharmacist, two churches and a graveyard. Basically, everything I might ever need was in that space and I had never ventured outside it.

But now, I was in Bandra – the cooler, more hep cousin of all the other suburbs with shorter skirts, tastier food and a lot more entertainment options guaranteed to appeal to everyone. Like the McDonalds -first in the city that had opened there. Or, as I’ve just mentioned - a coffee shop.

Except, coffee, funnily enough, held no appeal to me. The best coffee I had ever tasted was a cold version of it available at Churchgate. Sadly, that had shut down. A very close second was Bru instant coffee made at home. With milk and sugar. Coffees in these cafes were expensive. And tasted horrible.

A decade had passed since I discovered coffee shop and they hadn’t died out. Instead, they had multiplied. Which is why, this girl was occupied every week.

It got me thinking – what could I pursue with single minded passion and chronicle for myself.

I settled on Gajar halwa.

See, I have a massive sweet tooth. And of all the sweets I have ever eaten, this one is my favourite. It’s yummy and if you ignore the sugar, has some health benefits. This would be a pleasurable pursuit. One that I could continue with until I was old and diabetic.

People told me that carrots improving our eyesight is a myth. They were wrong. In one single year, I had to change my glasses twice. The number for my spectacles dropped twice by 0.25 in each eye. I was eating boxloads of it and my eyesight kept improving. There were no other changes in my lifestyle or reading habits in that year.

Eventually, I cut down. My waist kept widening and I really didn’t want to spend on new glasses every six months. My wife also found it annoying. She tries to eat right with a salad for each meal, minimal sugar and oil in her food etc and here I was causing a carrot shortage in Singapore.

There is perhaps one footnote I should add here – which is about my pursuit of another wonderful Indian sweet – the gulab jamun. But I am going to save that tale for another day.


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