In my office we have a colleague called Victor. I have changed his name to maintain some privacy…but his name does start with the alphabet ‘V`. Most in the office call him ‘dry fish` because he has no life and no juice….but somehow I don`t agree to him being called by that name because I love ‘dry fish`.
If you are a Tamilian, you probably respond to the word ‘karuvadu kozhlambu`…the tasty dish that`s made from dry fish.
Warning: It is suggested that non-meat eating Bhramins, PETA-supporting vegetarians, and sea-food allergic quit reading this article NOW because there is going to be a lot of ‘dry fish` beyond this sentence.
As I was saying, I love ‘dry fish` preparations because of its salty-spicy taste. I also like its commitment – name me one Human being who would taste so well even after death? The two-three stand up comedians I have tasted…tasted funny.
A small amount of well-fried dry fish can help South Indians gobble up a plateful of curd rice (and it is only half the meal!). Personally, I prefer the deep fried preparation over the gravy because when it is the latter, I feel guilty. Who wouldn`t feel guilty seeing a once-alive fish float in spicy water?
Since I love it so much, when Rekha started from Madurai, I requested her to get me some ‘dry fish.`
The biggest problem with North India is that it is landlocked, and thus fish is really costly….leave alone ‘dry fish.`
When I went to buy fish last weekend, I noticed that the ICICI Bank was right next to it. I asked the security guy there, why they had set up a branch near a fish market…and he said: “Sir, the mountain has to come to Mohammed.”
Apparently, the bank had been getting lots of calls from the fish market asking for personal loans (probably to buy fish) and decided to open a branch nearby. The bank`s strategy was simple…before the fish was bought, the buyer was asked to fill in the loan details post which two witnesses put in their signatures (the shop owners were helpful, here).
The money was directly credited into the fish shop owner`s account. The fish buyer could then pay off the loan in Equal Monthly Installments (EMIs).
Anyway, since I asked her to get me some ‘dry fish,` Rekha bought it before she left Madurai. From Madurai she was to leave for Kannur (her place), spend a week and move back to Gurgaon.
If you haven`t been exposed to ‘dry fish` let me tell you that it smells a lot. That`s why when Rekha was in Kerala…her father hung the ‘dry fish` on a mango tree outside the house.
Three cats fractured their legs trying to escape my father-in-law`s bursts after nearing the smelly dry fish. These are the times I really like my father-in-law.
During her flight from Calicut to Chennai, the ‘dry fish` was packed and checked in as a baggage. Rekha says the ground staff did twitch her pretty nose as the ‘dry fish` was being handled by the support staff. A little skeptical that the prejudiced ground staff wouldn`t have booked the ‘dry fish,` Rekha asked a baggage handler if he had seen a small, red bag being loaded. The guy said: “Yes madam I just loaded it. Next time…why don`t you try Air Deccan?”
At the Chennai airport Rekha was picked up by her ex-colleague Sheela`s driver. Rekha was to spend the Saturday in their house, and then take the next day`s flight to Delhi.
As soon as Rekha sat in Sheela`s car, she realized Sheela was a Bhramin and wouldn`t like ‘dry fish` in her car. She immediately called me up and asked: “Rajan, I have fish with me but unfortunately I am in Sheela`s car.”
“So what? Doesn`t the fish have driver`s license?”
“Aree…Sheela is a Bhramin. She would be upset if she came to know that I had ‘dry fish` in her car,” Rekha was on the verge of crying.
“Just ask the driver to hold it outside the car. Simple.” I have a knack of coming up with simple and executable solutions.
“If the driver holds the ‘dry fish` out in his right hand…everybody will think he is turning to the right.” Rekha was being very upright.
“So…ask the driver to turn right!”
“Wouldn`t we be going in circles then?” Rekha sure knew where she was going.
After a long discussion, it was decided that Rekha would ask Sheela`s driver to take the ‘dry fish` to his house and bring it to Sheela`s house when he came to pick her up the next day. That way, the ‘dry fish` would never enter Sheela`s house.
The next day, Sheela`s driver didn`t turn up. Apparently, his wife was a vegetarian and when he landed at their house with a packet of ‘dry fish` she got scandalized. They had a quarrel of sorts and as part of the agreement it was decided that the husband will quit his job as Sheela`s driver.
However, the driver`s wife delivered the ‘dry fish` in time for Rekha to board the flight. After my wife told me that in the flight from Chennai to Delhi, she was allowed to sit inside the cockpit because rest of the passengers complained of a dead-fish like smell….I didn`t probe her any further.
Today, sitting in Gurgaon – a city that doesn`t even have lakes – I am having the best of dead, dry fish!