Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Tale of New Potatoes

During our first month at Blacksburg, Virginia, we had been regularly purchasing a certain type of potatoes. Suddenly one day, while shopping at the departmental store, my room-mate Arnab spotted a new type of potato and announced that we should instead purchase that. According to him, this one would resemble Indian potatoes more closely. I was initially reluctant to change but finally succumbed to his confidence.

However I was skeptical about the end-product when one day, I embarked to make aloo-bhaate (mashed potatoes, Bengali style). Except for the darned potatoes, all the other ingredients had my vote of confidence. A newly acquired bottle of sorsher tel i.e. mustard oil (the quintessential ingredient of aloo-bhaate) would purge the ill-effects of the new potato, I said to myself.

But when I popped in my first morsel of the aloo-bhaate, my worst fears were proved true - the aloo-bhaate was sweet! What torture was my room-mate forcing upon me! Was this some sort of a sweet potato?. I was ravenously hungry, so I added some more "salt" and proceeded to gulp down a few more morsels. The "salt" however failed to placate the evil potato of its' cloying sweetness.

Research has not yet proved that when a person is extremely hungry, his brain stops working. However that day, that was exactly what happened to me. Somewhere down the treacherous meal, when the hunger pangs had been satisfied a little, I started thinking rationally about the series of events that led to the devilish aloo-bhaate. Recounting the steps, I realised that all the time, I had been adding sugar instead of "salt". My only line of defense was that here in the USA, sugar and salt look the same when unpacked. Thus it was not the potatoes that were at fault. Instead it was my hunger-induced state of mind, which had made my brain unable to differentiate between the packaging of these two substances.

There are records of similar "salt-and-sugar" mishaps in the recent past. This is what Amitabh Bacchan had to say about such an incident in the movie Cheeni Kum. You shall find that in this case, the person's brain had stopped working due to other limiting factors.