Well life is so uncertain... while that final moment of destiny stares on someone whom you are acquainted with.. .. the more dramatic situation.. encompassing with climax and anti-climax more than anyone.. we all feel and wish the MIRACLE to happen as it happens in the movies...!but the fate is always .. bitter and unacceptable and we still negotiate the situation with emotions and sentiments.. but.. certainly missing the presence of the acquainted.. respected.. personnel.!!!
Well it was an hour passed midnight.. I after reaching my room I called my wife at Delhi to get updated with the calamities at Mumbai terrorist attack on Taj Mahal Hotel.. my emotions were more evident .. since I began my career as Chef from Taj Group of Hotels... it does take a long personal string down the memory lane...!
I was in transit shifting, my accomodation from Northwoodhills to Surbiton. I was in dual mind to forgo that moments watching the news video clippings.. It was too disturbing.. as an individual sitting miles away , continents away but still it was like my own house getting ghutted...!
Until next day I was not aware of the missing journalist ....SABINA....while my wife sent me a text to call her immediatly.. I called her to get to hear this news of Sabina with uncertainity swirling around her survival...! at that moment I only wished . she come out safe.. though I had met Shantanu once ... remembered Sabina relating the incident of her son getting lost in London Oxford Street and how ,she was in tears as they had no clue what happened to him... and evetually the smart kid was with the cop waiting for his Mom-SABINA at the hotel... I was just imagining something of that sort might come up as a surprise to all....!.... It would be certainly ejoyable rather emotional had Sabina been alive to read my blog..!
Well on my debut in Delhi.. as Chef setting my foot was like trying to walk with my joggers on icy track... totally new place with not a single soul to my acquaintance.. and above all.. regionalism.. surviving that.. was a real experience.. at work..!
On my first week... I was suddenly summoned by Chef Shivanand Kain to let me know that I have to prepare some food for the company's director with a few of his Food critic journalist friends..I was hardly given much time to do the ground work... well encountering the crisis and challenge has always been second to my nature.. I took the opportunity by the horns.. not realising whom I am going to encounter..
With just 3 hours given to me and I had been fortunate to have two persons..Karthikeyan and Senthil Kumar whom I had taken with me from Chennai on my Delhi venture as adviced by Chef Soundarajan of Club Mahindras and incidentally my well wisher and my college senior, to get people for my assistance as it would be totally unimaginable to get any assistance at the new place ...
The array of menu had been totally strange to all present... Mr. Rohit Khattar, Mrs. Renuka Chaudhry, Mrs. Sabina Saihgal, Mrs. Bacchi Karkaria,.. they were at the Lite House restaurant and having a meeting.. while I was asked to lay out the dishes... well at heart .. I was thanking my -Mom, Sisters, Aunts, Granny from whom.. I remembered some dishes that were completely not documented in any of the cook books... that was a run away success... with dishes like.." Neer Urundai, Kolukattai, Suzium, Puttu, Paasiparuppu Puttu,... the menu extended to a dozen items.." As majority of the items were steam cooked I had won half the battle from the panelists... particularly Sabina , she was quite impressed by me on my first exhibit and above all our Director: Mr. Rohit...( Well a person whom I regard in high esteem, but ironically I am on a legal tussel with him ...Maybe days ahead for both of us to come face to face we might sign a peace treaty,...!)
We had the concept.. of doing "Food Festival with celebrities in the restaurant chain which is quite renouned ... Every month we had one celebrity , to mention, we did the promotion with Ms. Anjali Mendis - The First Indian Model for Pierre Cardin, Mrs. Bacchi Karkaria, Mrs. Renuka Chaudhry now a minister in the governement., Artist Mr. Manjith Bawa, .. it went for every month.. and the launch used to be so pompous and one can be sure of the presence of the media on the occassion and air of celebration used to be a trait unique for the company and its philosophy... "HOSPITALITY" and always Sabina was there as a friend, well wisher and a critic..the occassion would reach the next gear on her arrival at the venu.. person with such aura of celebration and boisterousness.
When Sabina had her parents anniversarry celebration at our banqueting venu and ironically she remembered to include most of the dishes that I had given on the trial.. which did emphasise the acceptance of my professional exhbition and that particular day I was on a rush to get back to Chennai as my daughter Swetha was getting operated for Appendicitis.. it was quite disturbing for me but yet I had completed the service as Chef Shivanand Kain insisted that I should be present till the end.. I was so moved while Sabina with her whole heart thanked for everything.. on the occcassion...
Well as the company had planned to expand its operation in UK, the project was well drafted and punctuated with all its uniqueness , where in, we differed from vogue by not follwing the trail of the European navigators, we darted the indian business community, "Chettiars' trail as LOTUS TRAIL" This eventually led us to explore the Chettinaad Cuisine to the 79 odd villages in the southern districts in Tamil Nadu State of India. Chef Soundarajan had been the key contact person for us and Chef Manish explored then cuisine of the Far East.
Well those 7 days trip down south.. Sabina joined us and I was amazed observing her quest for facts before wearing the Critic Cap.. The trail began at Chennai visiting almost all the major, famous Chettinaad Restaurants.. and subsequently, our drive to the Chettinaad, on our way cherishing the rustic natures gift, trying the " Eelaneer: Tender Coconut, Nongu: Palm Fruit, Jackfruit, Gauvas, Mangos, I was enjoying the expression of Sabina more at ease for all all as chefs had a different taste of her ink as critic... observing her by the side.. as a friend..it was different
The trip at the villages where it was devoid of socio domestic comforts of the plush interiors, airconditioners, carpets... etc.. she was quite at ease with no complaints..and nevertheless enjoying every moment of the trip. Her quest did not just rest with food while I had a chance to narrate the story of the poet Dharumi and Nakeeran at Meenakshi Amman temple, explaining the vegetable colours used on the cave paintings at the Pillaiyarpatti Temple.. it was good and while we visited the "IDLI SHOP " at Madurai.. on our return from Meenakshi Amman temple she was thorughly enjoying the hot steaming Idlis and Dosas.. before she departed.
Later on the innaguration of the project at London while she evaluated the menu seeing the influence of the various cuisine that we researched.. we had a sigh of relief..for her neutral comments..
Well I was talking to my wife before writing this blog where she too, though has heard of me mentioning about Sabina had been a devouted reader of her column... did state.. " The uncertainity of life.. why do we all.. squabble for ... at the end.. it is nothing.... while we hear and read about such incidents , that does transpire situation to nothingness withing split seconds..well what so ever.. Shantanu and her kids would have to live with memories of Sabina... let them have the required strenght....