Monday, April 19, 2021

P is for Pudding in Planters' Club #AtoZChallenge

Dear Readers,

Welcome to the fourth week of the #Blogging from A to Z  April Challenge 2021. My theme this year is based on the Japanese concept of Ichigo Ichie which means--"What we are experiencing right now will never happen again. And therefore, we must value each moment like a beautiful treasure."

I've put together a collage of such moments which can be seen as chance occurrences, coincidences, pre-destined or random (depending on who you ask) for this month's challenge. 

I hope you'll enjoy being here.

Thank you.

Arti
"I love chocolate cake.
And when I was a boy,
I loved it even more."

From Chocolate Cake by Michael Rosen
*****
February, 1996

As soon as I could afford to travel without borrowing money, I decided that I'd celebrate my birthdays by travelling to a new place.

I picked Darjeeling in 1996.

We were living in Calcutta. I had never been to Darjeeling. An opportunity to be close to the mountains was too compelling to resist. We picked the closest weekend to my birthday, packed and boarded the night train from Calcutta to Darjeeling.

I was chuffed to bits when I managed to book us a room at the historic Planters' Club on account of  low season. I was told it had the best views of the Kachenjungha range. 

After checking-in and the obligatory cup of tea, we decided to go for a walk before dinner.

Big mistake.

By the time we made our way back, fog had smudged everything around us like an impatient child's chalk drawing on a grey slate-board. 

The streets were dark and empty. The only lights flickering were coming from occupied rooms of Planters' Club. And even those looked like eerie beams from another world. Faint. Mystical. I remember two things clearly: the chill that penetrated the jacket I was wearing and gnawing hunger.

We would've stopped at a café to eat on our walk but nothing was open for business. 

We called for dinner as soon as we got in. We were told the kitchen at the club had shut. It was only 7 pm! 

Clubs have rules and they adhere to them with such passion that on our first night of holiday, we were left hungry. 

"You mean to say there is no food in the club?" I asked the man who came to light the fire in the fire place almost as soon as the husband had settled the phone in its cradle.

"This is a club. You are supposed to place your dinner orders by 1 pm." He stated in a matter of fact way while lighting the logs with the ease and expertise of someone who's done it forever.

"Why didn't anyone tell us when we checked in?" I was hangry now.

The look on the fire-fixer's face told me he was surprised at our stupidity. How could we have assumed that the shops in a hill station would remain open till late in low season? How could we have not known the rules of the club? 

The only 'how' howling inside my guts was: How am I going to sleep on an empty, rumbling tummy?

"Kuchch karo bhai...See, if you can do something brother." the husband is always more resourceful than I am in such situations.

"Mein dekhta hoon...let me see." the fire-fixer said and left the room.

We should've carried a packet of biscuits. I was fretting over what I should've done.

Half an hour passed. Then another fifteen minutes. Hunger pangs grew bolder. There was no sign of the fire-fixer.  Even the reception desk had shut by now.

Knock on the door.

The husband opened the door. 

The tray. The tray entered the room before the fire-fixer who was holding the tray. I noticed plates and bowls and hope placed neatly on the tray as he put it gently on the table by the fireplace.

"There were two portions of bread and butter pudding left in the kitchen. I got you those and then I went home to ask my wife if we had any food. I live just behind the club. She fixed you these chicken sandwiches. I hope these will fill you up."

Gobsmacked at the generosity of this man who didn't smile much, I mumbled thank you.

The wrinkles on his face didn't change their set ways. He didn't smile. 

"Don't forget to place your dinner orders tomorrow." he reminded us like a parent and left the room after saying a crisp 'good night'.

I don't have to tell you how delicious the food tasted that night. 

The next morning, a pot of steaming Darjeeling tea arrived and all was well with the world once again. 
The Planters' Club will prove to be a very memorable experience for another reason.: to be continued tomorrow...
*****
What's your favourite pudding?

Last year, I wrote about early morning walkabouts in misty autumns of Dehradun of my childhood. You can read it here: Prabhat Pheri

This year, I'm participating in #BlogchatterA2Z  powered by theblogchatter.com 

36 comments:

  1. Hari Om
    Okay, I'm hooked and will be back for the next instalment!!! YAM xx

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  2. what a start to a holiday! But I'm glad it turned out well for ou. Most clubs and hill station people are kind and generous and do anything to make their guests comfortable as a rule. My favourite pudding is caramel custard

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    1. I'm a hill person and I'm happy to read your comment on behalf of all the pahadis:) Thank you.

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  3. Arti what a lovely story. I love bread pudding and caramel custard. And I for sure am returning tomorrow to figure out the next reason why Planter's Club is special.

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  4. A very interesting character, the fire lighter. Some people speak little, show no emotions but do what needs to be done...

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  5. A good man, even if he was not the smiling kind ;)

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    1. A very kind man and his wife must've been a kind soul too for she shared their food with us.

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  6. He sure was a good man despite not smiling. Seems like a character from a book (that's my imagination running wild already). :D Curious to know what happened next.

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    1. Your imagination is great for my future as a writer:) Ha! Ha! Keep it running Sri. Thank you.

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  7. The Planter's Club with the best views huh? It will be interesting to see what happens next. My favorite pudding.... well toss up between chocolate (I love chocolate anything) and my mammy's old fashion bread pudding with raisins and vanilla sauce...mmmm now my mouth is watering and I just may have to make some. I wrote about people
    Cheers,
    Crackerberries

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    1. Your Mother's pudding is making me drool Barbie. I wish I could taste some right now.

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  8. Sabse cute here is your innocent chai wali picture....I honestly thought you had to sleep hungry before I finished the story...quite intrigued for the part-2.

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  9. I once got my bag stolen during our trip to kodaikanal and can you imagine losing your glasses while wearing contact lens and the contact lens holder and the solution...so the husband and I roamed around at night looking for a medical shop that sold contact lens supplies and luckily we found one

    "impatient child's chalk drawing on dark slate. " lovely comparison there

    The tastiest food is the one that reaches us at the peak of hunger

    https://pagesfromjayashree.blogspot.com/2021/04/p-for-potion.html

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    1. All's well that ends well.

      Yes, hunger has the effect on taste buds:)

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  10. When you are that hungry, anything would have tasted delicious, but to actually have some bread and butter pudding must have been very special - I adore it!

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  11. Your "Hangry" (Bhooki Sherni - sounds like a poor Horror film title )emotion must have scared the poor kind man! Hope he learnt to smile by the time you left Planters Club. I make some pudding with left over muffins/cakes/biscuits & fruits. Friends & Family seem to like it and since the ingredients depend on whats leftover, each time it tastes different. :-)

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    1. Bhooki sherni sounds like a sequel to 'Stree'. I hadn't seen this point of view. Thank you for changing my perspective Vidya.
      Hugs. xx

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  12. Such a lovely memory.
    I also have very fond memories of Darjiling. Enjoyed reading this post.

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  13. Amazing how kind strangers can be! Look forward to the next story - and I'll have a nice bit of apple pie and ice cream for my pudding :-)
    https://iainkellywriting.com/2021/04/19/the-state-trilogy-a-z-guide-p/

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    1. Ooh! Apple pie and ice cream. Yummy.
      No wonder I grow in girth in April:)
      Thank you for visiting Iain.

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  14. What a kind and unexpected gesture from the fire fixer.

    My husband gets hangry too! I always tease him about it.

    Weekends In Maine

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    1. As we've grown older, we've swapped that role in our household too. He's the one who gets hangry these days. I can sense it:)

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  15. Hah, I just realized I'm gonna be out all day and I forgot to pack food... Oops.
    The tea sounds lovely, though!

    The Multicolored Diary

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    1. Hope you managed to feed yourself before you got hangry:)

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  16. The coconut personality - the term came into existence because of people like the fire- fixer. Enjoyed reading your post and had a mini trip myself through your words.

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  17. He didn't have a smile. So what, he was very kind. If we are lucky, such places have such kind souls too. But anyway, such are learning experiences too, as they have been for me.

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    1. Thanks Pradeep.
      And then there are those who smile a lot but do absolutely nothing to help!

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  18. Ahem ahem... 1-42 am... And a fresh craving... From cookies to now butter pudding. I want it now😠.Is this the hungry expression!

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    1. That's a perfect hangry expression Ira.
      BTW, what're you doing up so late? (I don't have any concerned parent type friend emojis on my laptop;)

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