“I’m dreadfully sorry, Haresh, old chap, I truly am, but it’s the wife, and you know what she’s like, and I really would offer myself, but I can’t cook.”
“David, please, I would do it myself but neither can I!”
“Look, why don’t you hire out a professional?”
“No, they’re far too expensive, we simply don’t have the funds! But I don’t know what to do. Hosting an MP and the Mayor isn’t an easy feat-”
“Why don’t you get your wife to do it?”
“Have you ever met Gita? There is no way she can cook an important dinner like this! She can barely make microwave baked beans without exploding the microwave! And I should know.”
“Oh, come on, she can’t be that bad?”
“No, I draw the line there. Whatever happens happens, but there is no way I can permit Gita to cook this dinner…”
“Ooh, I’ve never cooked an important dinner before!”
“I didn’t think so.”
“I’ll need to read up on loads of things! How to cook, for starters…”
Haresh decided to leave her to it. Whatever she fancied doing was fine with him right now…
Gita had to go into town for her cooking class. She didn’t often go into town, because it was so very far away, and it was thoroughly overwhelming. It took twenty minutes to get there on foot, which, frankly, was far too long, and it was full of shops that she didn’t like. There was Mr Baker’s bakery, which was nice to stop off at from time to time, but there was, overall, too great a number of shops selling not all that much and still seeming to do significantly better than Bloomin’ Lovely. She looked in at the window of one of them. There seemed to just be odd bits and bobs, hundreds of pounds each, and several people queuing up inside to purchase something. It caused a great bitterness to overcome Gita as she stared and stared…
It was Mrs Bucketbottom. She snapped Gita swiftly out of her thought process.
“Oh, hello there, Mrs Bucketbottom! I didn’t see you there!” revealed Gita as she caught her breath back. “I’m just heading to a cooking class-”
“Do you mean the one in the town hall?”
“Tremendous! I am too! We can go together!”
Gita did not like the idea of going with Mrs Bucketbottom. She was a highly irritating woman. She was just about to express this feeling when her words morphed in her throat to something else:
“Oh yes, what a lovely idea!”
“...And do you know, it was damaged! Can you believe it?”
“Hardly, Mrs Bucketbottom, hardly.”
Mrs Bucketbottom had not stopped talking, and continued to ramble as they stepped over the threshold of the town hall. Fortunately, they were accosted by a woman with a register, wishing to know whether they had enrolled for the cookery class.
“Chandra… Chandra… Ah, there you are,” she said, as she moved aside to allow Gita entry. Mrs Bucketbottom also attempted to bustle past, but the usher stood in her way.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name?”
“I am Mrs Bucketbottom! Stand aside!”
“I’m sorry, I can’t see you on my list-”
“I don’t care about your silly list! I come here every week…”
Gita left Mrs Bucketbottom and that poor girl to argue, and took her place behind a table that had been set out in the hall. There was a tall and intimidating man on the stage at the front, although he was wearing an apron that looked particularly out of place on him, as though he had stolen it. He moved towards the table in front of him as he realised that the auditorium had reached it’s full capacity (for there were at least six or maybe seven others in the room who had forked out to take the class). He picked up some utensils and ingredients and began to speak to the room at large.
Gita wasn’t really listening. She was distracted. She kept thinking of the pressure of the dinner she was holding. An MP! She didn’t know which MP it was who was coming to Haresh’s school, but she knew that it was a tough ask for her, and she didn’t want to mess it up, even if she didn’t like the visitor.
As Gita left the class later, none the wiser as to how to make an important dinner, an idea came to her. There was one thing that she was very able to cook, because her mother had taught her, all those years ago. She had never made it for Haresh, because she didn’t think it was to his taste, but it was all she could come up with short of ordering a takeaway.
This would be glorious…
She rushed around the kitchen, shaking spices over the meal, which seemed to be coming along very nicely. There were a lot of things to consider when making this dish, but she was very skilled at it; she had been cooking it since she was a little girl. She could make lamb mikka tasala with her eyes closed- which was lucky, as the smoke filling the room completely obscured her vision.
She hurried back to the lamb that was sizzling on the stove. She couldn’t remember whether she was supposed to roast it beforehand or something, but had decided not to on account of the fact that that would be a tad excessive and anyway, she was running out of time. The guests would be there very soon and they couldn’t be kept waiting. With a shaking hand, she poured the spices into the mix and hoped for the best. She knew how to cook it, but the more she thought about it, the more she realised that her mum had probably done a lot more of the work than she typically gave her credit for. Everything seemed to be exploding. This was not good. That wasn’t meant to do that. And what did the ringing timer mean? Which of the four pots needed to come off the stove? What was going on? Was that the doorbell? Where was the door? Was Haresh out there greeting the guests? Would she be done in time?
Everything seemed to be coming crashing down around Gita.
From outside, she could hear the sounds of formalities, and then people sitting down on scraping chairs. Would the food be ready? Was it cooked? Was it burning?
Gita reached up to a cupboard and took down four plates, for herself, Haresh, the Mayor and the MP. She moved them beside one of the pots and ladled lamb lumps onto each of them, and then poured on the sauce of the curry. Now it was time to search for cutlery. There had certainly been some in the drawer earlier, but all knives and forks of the correct sort had mysteriously gone missing, it seemed. Were they in the dishwasher? No, as it turned out. Instead, the fancy cutlery that had been a present years ago would have to be dug out and washed. The sound of conversation seemed to drown out from outside; they must have been impatient to eat! Gita stumbled in her panic, and decided that there wasn’t time to wash to cutlery. Hurriedly, she took it out to lay the table.
The table, it transpired, was surrounded by three people who had reached some sort of conversational impasse. Haresh, the Mayor and the MP all looked angry, especially Haresh, who had his Headmaster face on, and none of them were talking.
“I’ll just- I’ll just get the food.”
Gita had sensed the tense atmosphere and hurried to extract herself from it. She didn’t know what was going on, but decided not to interrupt (even though she felt fully capable of holding a conversation all by herself). It seemed the best way. So she simply delivered the food to Haresh and the guests, and retreated to the kitchen to eat there.
MP Dirk Dent wondered if she was some sort of maid.
Haresh did not like MP Dirk Dent one bit, as he explained to Gita once they were free of his presence. As a teacher, he did not like much being in the company of the education secretary, bearing in mind how much more difficult his life had been made under Dent’s “regime”.
MP Dirk Dent did not like Mr Haresh Chandra one bit, as he explained to the Mayor once they were free of his presence. As a politician, he did not much like being in the company of a headteacher from a union, bearing in mind how much more difficult his life had been made under the NUT’s “regime”.
Gita was just sad that nobody had thought to complement her on her cooking.
And the Mayor had diarrhea for a week afterwards.
Bloomin' Lovely continues tomorrow in The Traffic...