I have known my husband for the last 12 years. But the first 9 years don’t really count. We took a class together in school, but that was it. We chose different paths, went to different colleges and he was then studying and working in the USA for six years, before he came back and we met.
And in those intervening years a lot happened. I dated a few guys, he must have dated some girls (although he doesn’t talk about it. yet.) , but yes, we were on different paths of life.
And then I cleared my CA exam, was 22 and deemed fit to get married by my parents and other folks around me. Or at least start looking for “suitable guys” so that something “clicks” sooner or later. My attempts at finding a suitable boyfriend to eventually get married to had failed miserably for several reasons. So, naturally my matrimonial ad was placed in some of the arranged marriage groups and related newsletters. I don’t know what it said, but clearly my mom had done a good job at marketing me well, because the whole ritual of meeting guys and their parents and that whole shit started soon enough.
For those of you who are uninitiated about the arranged marriage process in India, let me sum it up for you. Typically, the responsibility of finding a partner for the girl and the guy lies with the family. So as a community activity, people suggest befitting proposals and the families meet, the would-be bride and groom meet too, may be for an hour or so and that’s it. In more advanced cities, the girl and guy meet may be one or two times and boom, a perfect heavenly match is made. Or so they claim.
My mom, the super efficient woman that she is, started working on this project. She made lists, went through matrimonial websites, magazines and generally spread the word around that they are looking for their daughter. She even went ahead and made a fake facebook and orkut (which was very popular then) account and would re-search about the guys before she asked me to have a look at them. Oh man, it was like one organized military operation. And as a result, over a span of two years, my mom and dad evaluated about 200 proposals, spoke to at-least 80 of them and as a fitting climax, I met around 15 of those ‘boys’.
It was hilarious to say the least. I had very little belief in this system of finding a husband, and it just sounded bizarre that I would randomly go and stay with a guy who I have met twice, or say thrice. My savior in this whole situation was my brother, because we would laugh off the whole thing. That kept my sanity intact.
Nevertheless, I had some interesting interactions. Once we went to a guys house, and the whole living room was painted bright red, the chairs, upholstery, carpet, wall hanging, everything right upto the ceiling fan was bright red. Felt like a psychedelic cocaine-induced view of things. On another time, I met a guy alone, in a coffee shop, and in a weird “phoren” accent he started regaling his tales of how many women he had seduced and laid. Urgh. I fled.
We had also met the then Mumbai municipal commissioner’s son, who was as thin as a stick insect. We got to see the palatial home of that bureaucrat, but the guy rejected me for the reason that I had spectacles. He and his father were sent to jail later on when they were convicted in a housing scam. I thanked some celestial power for that most awesome rejection of my life.
One guy, a friend of my friend, was so overwhelmed and out-of-breath the whole time, that he spilled the coffee, accidentally touched my hand and relegated at the shock and finally walked out and forgot to pay the bill. When I politely told him that I don;t think us can work, he e-stalked me for a whole six months after which my friend had to step in and stop it.
I could go on with these tales, but I think it is sufficient for now. My poor mom was getting traumatized by the end of two years, and I was also on the verge of saying yes to a not-that-great-but-okayish guy, which is when my classmate and my future husband rescued me from all of this hoopla. And hence started our love story, our families met, and we got married.
And P.S: I have known some amazing people having an arranged marriage and it beautifully works for them. So I am not at all against this concept. Just FYI.
Mushroom Turnovers or Stuffed Mushroom Pies
I got this recipe from a dog-eared book ‘ The Good-Housekeeping’. It’s a very old book I picked up at a flea market, and I don’t think it is in print anymore. But the recipes and illustrations there are excellent.
What you will need:
- 120 gm cream cheese , I use Philadelphia
- 50 gm butter
- 75 gm all-purpose flour
- 20 gm cold butter, cut into pieces
- 100 gm button mushrooms, washed and chopped
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 2 tbsp yoghurt
- Dried herbs like basil, oregano, thyme
What to do:
- To make the dough for the covering, take cream cheese, butter and flour in a bowl and mix well, with an electric beater or knead with hand. Once the dough comes together, (it will still be a sticky dough), place it in an oiled bowl and cover it with a plastic sarine wrap or a damp cloth and refrigerate for an hour.
- Meanwhile, make the mushroom filling. Melt butter in a skillet/pan. Saute the onions till they become translucent.
- Add the mushrooms and cook them for a while till tender and till the water has evaporated away.
- Add salt, dried herbs and mix well.
- Blend flour and yoghurt together and add it to the mushrooms. Cook for a minute and then take it off heat. Let it cool.
- On a generously floured surface, take the dough, cut it into half and refrigerate one half. Roll the other half into a disk, while being careful to not let it stick to the counter-top or the rolling pin. Be very generous with the flouring.
- With a bowl or some other circular object, cut the dough disks into 4-5 inch circles.
- Carefully place the circles on a baking mat on a baking tray. Spoon in a tbsp of the mushroom mixture.
- Line the edges o the dough disk with the egg wash (or some melted butter) and lift it up from one side, align with the other side and press down to seal.
- Brush the tops with egg wash, so it gets a beautiful color while baking.
- Refrigerate the turnovers till it is just about time to serve and then bake in a pre-heated oven at 230°C for 12 minutes or so, till the turnovers are golden brown from the bottom.
- Repeat with the other dough disk and bake.
- Serve these buttery , flaky turnovers with some mint chutney or ketchup.
- The original recipe used sour cream, but I easily replaced it with yoghurt.
- These turnovers are basically egg-less with some egg wash. You can replace the egg wash with butter and still get the same effect.
- The cream-cheese and butter dough is excellent and you can use any type of savory thick filling inside.
- These turnovers are best eaten on the same day. They become soggy the next day. But can be refrigerated for 2-3 days before baking and then baked just before serving.