i thought about this long. my first memory of omelets is opening the Indian Railways breakfast packet. i loved them better than the poori-aaloo breakfast. it is still vividly clear, how aromas wafted and met in the railway coach, making hunger pangs rumble in time to the clickety-clack of the train. how we would wait for the man from the catering van and clear away the books, newspapers and puzzles on our berths...
and, then, i have to skip almost a generation to my college days. the time i spent five years in a vegetarian hostel. egg curry on wednesdays and chicken curry on Sundays. i am not joking, but, i have dreamt of eggs fried sunny-side-up in the night. for real.
there used to be an omelet and fish-fry stand that opened at night across the street from our hostel. those were the days when cell phones were as large as cordless phones and rarely seen. we used to scream our orders to the omelet wala from the corner most room on the first floor. sadly, the warden headquarters were also on the first floor, so theses antics did not last long.
his omelet had none of the frills. he beat the eggs in a steel tumbler, added finely diced onions, green chillies, salt, pepper and fresh green coriander. they arrived in the hands of the hostel watchman, wrapped in small squares of banana leaves and newspaper. made us feel like princesses. these hot and aromatic omelets costing Rs 4. though, i wonder why we ordered at all. we'd just gobble our rice, watery dal and bhaji and save the omelet for last.
in the last year of college, we moved to our new house in the middle of a rubber estate. we city-bred people were pleasantly surprised to find mushrooms spring up and abound after a thunder storm. no kidding. there were streams of white amidst the jungle greens and fallen leaves the morning after.
a prized and long-awaited delicacy, mom would peel and slice the milky-white mushrooms and freeze them after blanching them in turmeric and salt water. this is what was left after giving and sharing with neighbors and relatives living nearby. and, she would put these mushrooms in the after-church omelets on Sundays.
it used to feel like the mass will never end on Sundays then, what with the long sermon and someone always wanting to have a word with the parents after it. now, i love to go Sunday mass because i get to meet so many people once every few years.
little kids in frocks have grown into lanky, self-conscious teenagers. the teenagers are married or working, suddenly very proper and grown-up when they come to talk to you. the folks aging, changing ever so slightly, but, still eager to meet the one among them who has returned for a little time. her growth, her children.
the mushroom omelet ritual continues for the adults. my kids prefer their daily morning staple of idli-sambhar. i relish my Sunday breakfast of years ago. and, always with an extra cup of tea. all the more so because someone else is brewing it for me :)