The Family is a great forager. My shopping trips start with a list, and, sometimes, when some of the things on the list are not available, I replace them with the nearest equivalent. The contents of the bag do not surprise anyone. When The Family leaves home, I have no idea what she will get back. The trip that she took to work also yielded some surprises. A few landed up on our table instantly. The samosas and the hot vadas (without pav, unfortunately) were what I liked best. She put it on the last remaining piece of the first table setting we’d bought together. The usual rule of ceramics seems to be holding up: a chipped plate never breaks.
The fluffy hot dhoklas were another surprise. She’d also managed a peek into the kitchen where they had been prepared. As we demolished a large part of her findings, I listened to her stories of foot operated hand sanitizer dispensers, thin crowds in favourite shops, and clean kitchens. The first wave of infections is not over in Mumbai yet. As long as people remain masked, and spend most of their time distancing from each other, there should be no disastrous second wave.
The Family had to make a quick trip to work to pick up something that was only preserved on paper. On the way she took the photos of Mumbai slowly getting back to work which you see in the slideshow here. The reported number of deaths in the city due to COVID-19 has held steady at between 50 and 70 a day for the last six weeks. So people are reluctant to move out of home. The roads are as empty as movies of the 1960s used to show. The main visible difference between then and now is that almost every person on the road is masked.
I have a fantasy vision of the world in 2120. The world’s population will have begun to fall. Even so, there will be more people than today. Drinkable water and tillable land will be harder to find than now. The coastal cities of the world will have drowned, and there will have been unstoppable mass migrations northwards. Most of humanity will have memories of war and loss in their lifetime. But a little before that would Mumbai look like this?
It is still early in the pandemic, with a continuous slow rise in the number of affected. The food supply is still holding up, but with some lack of predictability about what we can get. Freshness is a problem these days, not absence. So we are forced to work a lot on the days when we go out to buy food. That’s why a cabbage soup. The Family had never tried this before, but decided to go with a simple recipe: tez patta (bay leaves), saunf (fennel seeds), and onions sauteed, then half a cabbage and one potato, both chopped, thrown into the cooker, boiled and then pureed, served with chili flakes on top. That gave us time to chop and cut other veggies, and pre-cook some for longer preservation.
The soup was accompanied with a small salad (although the tomatoes and carrots we get now are not very flavourful), and some thawed seekh kabab. A quickly prepared meal, but high in fiber and protein, with just a touch of carbs. We’re still trying to lose weight whenever possible, preparing for the bad times of the second wave. Isn’t it strange that instead of getting in shape for walks in the Himalayas, we are doing it so that our health does not deteriorate when the lockdown is removed but the chaos of the second wave prevents us from going out? We’ll be happy if there is no chaos and we get to enjoy our new trim shape by being able to go for long walks instead.