Mad-O-Wat? Not really.

Last week a little dream of mine, that I had harboured since I was 15, shattered. Atleast for a while.

According to news article , Sapna Bhavnani has closed her salon Mad-o-wat. The covid19 shutdown, loss of income and the high rent in Bandra forced her to shut her shop for now. It came as a shock to me, because for the last 20 years I have nurtured a dream to go there and get a haircut from her.

My hair has always been so curly and so unruly. Before I found the Curly Girl (CG) Method, and stopped using harsh chemical based shampoos, my hair used to be one tangled mass of hair, chidiya ka ghosla. In school if I had left my hair down in a ponytail instead of the two tight plaits, someone would throw little paper balls in my hair and it would stay there till I combed it the next day. I was subject to being called “Maggi” “Sathya saibaba” etc etc. And so I have always dreamed of finding the one hairstylist who would cure my hair into something more sexy, more charming. But that was not to be. Any hair stylist I went to would suggest to straighten my hair, till then they would disdainfully pick up a lock of hair and pronounce it “dead”, this hair cant be turned into anything pretty. Dreams crushed and heart broken.

But I felt Sapna Bhavnani would be able to work her magic on my hair. The tattooed bold stylist full of oomph was the cure to my malady. I was also majorly in love with her writing. She used to write in Sunday Mid-day about her life, being a woman, dating, her bikes and tattoos and S-E-X and I had read nothing like that as a 19 year old. I wanted to be her, I would look forward to her article every Sunday. 2006/2007 was a time of paper newspapers and I had to wait for my father to come home from his night-shift as a police officer, and hope that he would buy the very sensationalist tabloid Mid-day, a paper published only in Mumbai. Remember Mid-day? It also used to have Mid-day mate, the only place to see a woman in a bikini so casually in those times. I would wolf it down and day-dream the rest of the day. Not the mid-day mate but the article and Sapna Bhavnani’a words. Later when I started travelling out of Mumbai for work, and this paper won’t be available in any other city, my then (boy)friend would buy the paper and keep it for me. It was more precious to me than roses or chocolates or whatever.

But I never went to the salon. It was not affordable to go to Bandra from Mulund all the way to get an expensive haircut, and anyway no-one realises that I have had a haircut, my hair always looks the same. So I didn’t go. Later on, I straightened my hair, then turned to the CG method and wear my curls proudly since last 4 years, but Mad-O-Wat is now closed.

It’s so strange how we keep postponing something for later and then the thing never happens. I was always fond of quotes since childhood and one of my favourite ones was inscribed on a bookmark that came with Lonely Planet magazine. “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” I used this adage to do a lot of other things unbeknownst to my parents, but I still regret the ones I didn’t do.

My grandma wanted to go and have a meal at The Taj in Nariman Point. Again, earlier it was not affordable, then we got so busy building our career to earn the money to be able to afford such things, that we got real busy and never got time to do these things. Grandmum got bedridden for a year and then passed away in 2011. Since then I have had countless meals at The Taj, mostly with foreign business visitors, but every time I go there, I feel a pang of guilt for not having brought her here.

May be that’s why people make bucket lists. But what about silly little things that you want to do like a haircut or meal in a fancy restaurant, will these also go in the bucket list? Or are these just wishful thinking thoughts? If we write down every little thing that we want to do at least once in a lifetime, the bucket list will run into eighteen pages, front and back.

But better to have a long list and work on ticking it off than be filled with disappointment for the things we didn’t do or didn’t remember to do at the right time.

What say?

Xoxo,
Rutvika

P.s : I later met Sapna Bhavnani at a Feminist Rani conference and had stardust sprinkled on me.

Orange Tartlettes with orange cream

Yesterday night I had the strangest of dreams. In that dream, the husband was pregnant and I was the one taking care of him. Naturally, he was the one who was being fussed about, and I had to hold him, comfort him, come up with something tasty whenever he was hungry at the middle of the night, listen to a lot of whining about how his legs hurt, how his back ached and how he got horrible nightmares every night. And even in my dream, I resented it. How very strongly I wanted to be the one who was the centre of attention and heck, I wanted the baby in my belly. I wanted it with me right from the conception. Simple.

It was a long dream, and it dwelled on the cons of that reverse situation. But I will stop the descriptions here as I am sure you get the drift. I don’t want to go through the anguish of it all over again.

Then when I woke up, and realised that it was just a dream, my husband’s arm was protectively placed over me even when we were sleeping, I heaved a sigh of relief and further cozied up to him.

Which made me realise the amazing way in which nature has created men and women. Distinctly. I say that at the sound of being sexist, but that’s the truth. We, as women are made to want certain things, create and nurture in a particular way that is so uniquely ours. True, there has been a transformative trend where the roles of men and women are getting more aligned. Where you hear a Yahoo CEO getting back to work  two weeks after giving birth and conversely Facebook offering 12 weeks of paternity leave to the fathers. But that’s an exception and not the rule.

Even as kids I remember, we girls would make a baby of anything. The water-bottle, the umbrella, a rolled up newspaper, all of it was nothing but a baby that we could sway in our tiny little arms. And dress up our plastic baby dolls, swaddle them and hold them. I am sure as kids we were not being lectured that eventually you will be the ones having a baby and practice learning how to hold a baby. Heck no. But that was a natural instinct. May be, as Freud has said, we were emulating our mothers. Or may be, we are just wired that way. At least a majority of us.

I remember a particular incident when I badly wanted an ‘imported’ baby doll, which had a pacifier in its mouth and would sweetly coo “Momma” when the pacifier was taken out. I had seen it at a friend’s house and described it to my Dad. After realising that I wanted it badly, he got it for me and hid it in a shelf with the pacifier detached. As soon as I stepped into the room I knew from the cooing that it was my doll and I vigorously hugged my dad. When I look back, that day was one of the happiest childhood days of my life. And all for a baby doll! (I had that doll for atleast 10 years, and protected it with my life).

I say and recollect all of this, when the converse of my dream is true. (Thankfully) I am the one who is pregnant and my husband and everybody in the family is fussing over me. True I had severe nausea in the first trimester and now although I have some of my energy back, it constantly feels as if I have run a marathon and now recovering. Simplest girly pleasures of life like putting on a nail-paint is prohibited, and I am not even talking about that glass of wine or an occasional Long Island Ice tea. Taking a two hour flight and going for a food bloggers meet felt like a rigorous regime and I would fall asleep in exactly 30 seconds after lying on the bed.

But it feels like a miracle. I am growing a baby from scratch. I am making a heart, a brain, a nervous system, hands, legs, lungs, and oh, you name it, I can make it! It is liberating as much as restraining, comforting as much distressing. I cant wait to hold my real Momma-cooing baby doll in my arms. Yes I know it will eventually grow up and be an annoying toddler, a terrifying teenager and eventually an independent I-know-it-all adult. But for now, I am happy to think of it as a little baby.

Rutvika


And while those blood oranges are still in the market, I had to make these orange tartlettes which have a beautiful orange flavor and color, without even slightest use of anything synthetic. It’s just the oranges. Don’t believe me? Go make it yourself.

We had done these Tartelettes A L’orange once in school in Le Cordon Bleu, and like everything which works perfectly in the cold Paris weather, and does not in the humid, hot Mumbai weather, these tarts also had to be modified. I will put up the original measurement in the notes for those in cold weather.

Orange tartlette

Tartelettes A L’orange / Orange Tartlets

It makes 2 5-inch tarts and one 8-inch tart . Alternately, it can be used to make three 6-inch tarts.

Sweet Tartlet dough-

  • 75 gms butter, cold
  • 175 gms flour
  • 75 gms powdered sugar
  • 30 gm eggs, lightly whisked (3/4th of an egg)
  • 30 gm ground almonds

What to do :

  1. Cut the butter into small pieces and take it into a bowl. Add the flour and mix it with your hands, crushing the pieces of butter in the flour.
  2. Add the almond powder and sugar. Mix with your fingers.
  3. Make a well in the centre and add the whisked egg. Mix it with your index finger.
  4. Then take the mixture on a countertop and knead it. Press the mixture with heel of your palm and push it forward. Repeat till all it comes together to form a smooth dough.
  5. Refrigerate the dough for atleast an hour so that it becomes easier to roll.
  6. Generously butter the tart moulds or any springform pan with softened but not melted butter.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 140C.
  8. Prepare a baking pan and line it with parchment paper. Place the buttered tart moulds on the pan.
  9. Roll the dough disk into a round while generously flouring the countertop.
  10. Place the tart mould over the dough and cut it 2-3 cms away from the tart ring.
  11. Pick up the cut dough disk with your rolling pin and place it on the tart mould, floured side up.
  12. Press the dough into the ring so that the sides touch the mould and get pasted. Cut out the excess on top. Repeat the same with the remaining dough and tart moulds.
  13. Bake at 140C for 15-20 minutes till the top becomes golden brown. The sides will release itself since the mould is buttered.
  14. Let it cool completely before un-moulding.

Making the tart dough

For the orange filling –

What you will need :

  • Juice and peel (zest) of two oranges
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 eggs
  • 300 gm sugar – divided into 200 gm + 100 gm
  • 21 gms custard powder or cornflour
  • 140 gm butter at room temperature

What to do :

  1. Get all the ingredients measured first before starting, as every next step needs to be done quickly.
  2. Take a saucepan. Add butter and orange juice and zest. Add 200 gm sugar. Put it over heat and let it come to a rolling boil.
  3. Meanwhile, in another bowl, take the egg yolks and add the remaining sugar. Whisk well. Add the custard powder and whisk again.
  4. Add the whole eggs to the egg yolk mixture and whisk till it all comes together.
  5. Then once the mixture in the saucepan is boiling, take it off the heat. Add half of this to the egg mixture and stir well. Then add back this whole egg mixture to the saucepan. And put it on heat.
  6. Whisk while it is on heat for a couple of minutes (2-3), the mixture will start to thicken. Be very careful that it is not sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. If that happens take it off the heat, stir well and put it back on.
  7. Once sufficiently thickened, take it out in a bowl, let it cool and then refrigerate till cold.

Assembly –

  1. Take the cooled pre-baked tart disks and fill it with the cold orange filling.
  2. Put some zest over the top.
  3. Let it cool and set in the refrigerator before serving.

Orange tartlette piece

Notes :

  • The original recipe calls for 150 gm of flour. So if in a cold dry climate, use 150 gm or 175 as mentioned above.
  • Juice of two oranges is roughly 3/4 cup. But slightly more or less can be added.