Sometime after lunch: Having expanded our bellies after eating voluminous portions of Afghani Chicken and Tandoori Chicken for lunch, I declare to the man of the house that starting from the coming day, I will resume my morning running schedule to shed those extra pounds that I have collected over months of indulging in some high-calorie, mouth-watering delicacies. I hand over a set of low-calorie recipes and menus that I have planned to prepare starting the next day to keep both of us in good shape. The man of the house intensely looks at the piece of paper, scrutinizes the weight-loss schedule and the recipes, rolls his eyes, laughs and walks off the table.
“This might be the hundredth thousandth time you have announced this, and nothing happened”, he remarked blatantly.
Pushed back into the dark zone of truth, I realize what he is telling is probably right. It is true that I have viewed million weight-loss recipes, chalked out innumerable weight-loss diets, been the most inconsistent student at the gym, and yet shamelessly chose Afghani Chicken and Tandoori Chicken over healthy salads. It is true that I have failed uncountable times in my eternal quest to lose weight, and witnessing all this, the man of the house has lost more faith in my weight-loss promises than the amount of weight I have actually lost.
“This time for sure, you’ll see”, I replied grumpily. I meant it. This time, I was all pumped up to resume my strict regime and fit myself in the shiny party wears that have merely transformed as my cupboard decoration as I no longer fit in them.
6.00 pm: It is a regular schedule at home to upgrade our general knowledge by watching National and International news while sipping hot tea. I prepared some green tea for myself and regular milk-sugar tea for him and sat in-front of the ancient television that we’ve been planning, since ages, to replace with a ‘naya zamane ka tv’ (new generation tv). Even the television, or any gadget enhancement as a matter of fact, never fail to make us feel old with such generation-wise nomenclature that sometimes sounds like ancient scriptures, too difficult to understand.
No sooner did we open the infamous news channels, all we could see and read in the headlines was the news of the deadly smog blanketing Delhi and Delhi NCR, all thanks to the crop and paddy field burning in neighboring states, mass constructions, and many more. The air quality has worsened to a hazardous and fatal level with AQI values soaring as high as 420 and above in certain places in the national capital that doctors have suggested the residents to refrain from morning walks, runs and all sort of outdoor exercises should the residents wish to add few more extra years to their lives.
“There goes my morning walk schedule and weight-loss goals vanishing in smog”, I mumbled in a disappointed tone. If the situations remain as co-operative as the current one, my eternal quest to shed those extra kilos will also gradually diminish in the heavy smog, much the like the visibility in the national capital.
I suggested the man to buy some protective masks to shield the fine particles and other pollutants from entering our active bodies.
9.30 pm: Having flushed my morning walk plans through the window, I decided to prepare something good for dinner. After careful observation of the available ingredients, I decide to make Rajma-Chawal – a North Indian delicacy relished by my husband. I am a very passionate person when it comes to cooking and love to prepare any dish to complete satisfaction. So, I ended up making a wok full of thick, rich and dark rajma gravy, and a good quantity of rice. Amused by my culinary skills and the kitchen accomplishments, I called out to the man of the house after serving the much-awaited delicacy in a restaurant-style manner (To be honest, I copied the serving style from a popular cooking show – a (inverted) bowl of rice placed in the center of a white plate with thick gravy smeared on top).
As we were having our dinner over a discussion of the critical state of the national captial, out of all the odds in the world, my husband thanks me for his favorite rajma-chawal saying this – “Mast bana hai aaj, smog-wala rajma”. I was absolutely taken aback and speechless, not because I was elated by his gesture, but because I could not derive what sort of appreciation was that! Did he really appreciate the dinner, or he is thanking me for my mere efforts of preparing his dinner? It didn’t even occur to me to say ‘welcome’ to such ambivalent sentence.
“What do you mean?”, I asked with a totally blank expression. “Is it not good enough?”, the passionate cook in me wanted an explanation.
“It is an appreciation, pagli, nothing bad. The rajma gravy is exceptionally thick (like smog) and tasty”, he chuckled as he relished a mouthful of it.
Well, I thanked the Almighty that he has not ‘tasted’ the smog so far, but secretly prayed to HIM to clear some smog in his head to avoid such dubious one-liners in the name of appreciation while I gulped down some of the smoggy rajma chawal silently.
Looks like smog is truly the new flavor of the national capital.