Society & Lifestyle
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Me and My Rasgullas
|by Kamal (Kam) Joshi|
Yesterday my sugar level was high. Divali is a time to eat more than one should, and when it comes to eating Rasgullas, I am not an exception, I am the Rule. Every one of the Rasgullas that I ate were tempting, tasty, exquisite – with the sweetness equally distributed all over and the syrup just yummy, much like Maple Syrup and little bit of Honey, and the delicious milk and cheese balls softly melted in my mouth giving all over a sense of wonderful taste. Eating it feels as if the doors of heaven are open for admission--heavenly taste as they say.
I love Rasgullas; and as any red-blooded Rasgulla eater I never eat only one Rasgulla but eat several – after all taste for me is not an important thing it is the only thing. A connoisseur and an expert Rasgulla eater tries to eat them in various ways, squeeze, swallow, gulp, swirl, chew and wow oh wow what a great sensation – especially if the Rusgullas are made Bengali style – the only way to go baby.
Gulab Jamuns for me are the second best – I know some of you may disagree, but then more than likely you do not eat the real Bengali Rasgullas and only go for the warm Punjabi style Gulab Jamuns. Do not misunderstand me Punjabis know a lot, but when it comes to making Divali sweets it is the Bengalis who win all the way — they get the Gold and the Silver and the Bronze, I know, I know – no one makes a Pinni as good as a Punjabi, but Pinni is no Rasgulla, just as Burfi is no Kalakand. I can go to Calcutta any day to celebrate Divali because when others are enjoying fire crackers – I am just swirling and twirling the soft and luscious Rasgullas in my mouth all the way. To me Divali is all about sweetness of Rasgullas — Bengali Style baby. Heavenly.
No wonder every Divali my sugar level goes through the – roof. And I do not mind that because my pancreas are getting lazier by the year and it gives me an excuse to check out their effectiveness — last year the Sugar was 235 and this year 195. I could have had two more Rasgullas to keep up with the last year; and who knows last year I perhaps did have two more--no one is keeping the count.
And my Doctor just like all of you, says, “Manage your sugar and you will not get any debilitating disease like Cancer, Alzheimer, Atherosclerosis, Arthritis etc.” But, then you, like my Doctor, perhaps do not move the soft lovely luscious Rusgullas in your mouth. I know my Doctor does not; he is so fit that he may never die. That is what I think. But the Rasgullas I eat are every bite worth dying for. He does not know this — he went to the medical school, when I was making rounds of the various Halwaee shops. I have visited more Halwaee shops from London to Toronto to LA to Delhi and Chandigarh and Calcutta more than he has visited Hospitals. He may be an expert in managing sugar levels, but I am an expert in Rasgullas and Gulab Jamuns.
What happened next? I tried to recall what the Doctor had told me – walk, walk and walk. I got up early, at 5.30 AM – it is early for me, most who get up at 4AM greet me with a good afternoon at 5.30 AM, but then, besides a sweet lover I am lazy also. It is the fall season and it gets quite cold in Northern California, especially at 5.30 AM. I decided to take a long walk, and had to dress up to go outside, a stiff wind was blowing, wind chill that would chill any one, except the thick skinned ones, and Rusgulla eaters invariably are not thick skinned, one good result amongst many others of eating the sweet round rascals, additionally Rusgulla eaters are a jolly bunch. But jolliness and thin skin does not come handy when it is 35 degrees Fahrenheit with a stiff 35 MPH wind and a wind chill of about 19 degree F.
So I had to put on my thermal under wears. I do not know about you but I slide in one leg before the other. If I do it standing I can fall, at my age standing on one leg while pushing the other down a tube like tight is not an easy task. While I have a large bathroom, there is not much there to sit on to put on pants. The bath room designers never think of us folks who have to put on thermal pants. My underwear drawer is in the bathroom and I decided to put on the thermals right there. I had to hold on to the wall, and at my age my eyesight – partly because of age and partly because of a lifelong Rasgulla binge – is perhaps 100/100, it surely isn’t 20/20. And holding on to the wall with one leg up being pushed down the thermal wear, with that kind of eyesight, I was afraid of falling down. Anxiety set in and it made my heart beat faster and the blood started to flow through my veins faster, after all, those Rusgullas had made my hyper activity quotient high in proportion to the sugar level. I got a good bit of exercise putting on the pants too. Doctors do not know all this, but let me tell you a secret just put on your pants and take them off and put them on again – that is good enough to have one more Rusgulla.
After I got dressed up I got out and started to walk at a brisk pace, just as I got in to my rhythm a black cat crossed my path as I was walking under a ladder my neighbor had put up to paint his home. It was still dark outside and because of the darkness it was too late for me to avoid any of that. Like many Rasgulla eaters, who never made it past the sweets shop of the medical school, I am a very superstitious person.
Cats certainly are unique creatures. They can be soft, fuzzy and pleasant, and they can be bristling, spitting balls of razor sharp teeth and claws. Seeing a black cat is – depending on the country you are in at the time – considered bordering on unlucky times, but having a black cat cross your path is considered by many to be an omen of doom; not only is it bad luck, it is very bad luck. From there the superstition goes as far as belief that the black cat is a demon in disguise trying to cut off a person’s access to heaven.
Walking under a ladder has long been regarded a bad luck, but why? Some believe that in the medieval times, a leaning ladder was thought to resemble a gallows, so if you walked under a ladder you were guaranteeing your own death by hanging. Another, possibly more likely solution is that the shape formed by a leaning ladder is a triangle, and the triangle is the symbol of the Holy Trinity. Therefore, by walking through the triangle, you are violating and desecrating God.
Another possible explanation also relates to the medieval gallows. A ladder was placed against the gallows so that after a public hanging, the body could be cut down. If you happened to walk under the ladder as this was happening, you could be hit by a dead body being cut down.
Yet another explanation comes from ancient Egypt. The Egyptians believed that a special power was held by the triangle, because it was the shape of the pyramid. If you walked under a ladder, you were breaking the power of the shape.
Regardless of which one you believe – I believe in all of them especially right after Divali and all those Rasgullas. So fearful of what was to come I walked even faster. The trees seemed to be passing by and the birds and flowers were amazed at my speed so it seemed. The morning light was just setting in and the sky was preparing to change its color and I walked past the beautiful stream on the trail near our home and walked farther than I had anticipated thinking all the time what disaster will fall me. I started to pray and recited time tested prayers – the whole of Hanuman Chalisa, Ram Raksha Stotra and the Navagraha Stotra, praying for protection. But in my heart I knew something very terrible is going to happen. I must have walked more than an hour close to six miles. I may be eating Rasgullas but I am no idiot – I too want to be fit as my Doctor and he says to do that I must walk, walk, walk. So I did.
I came home and changed – I was sure I will fall down as I pull my legs out of the awful thermal underwear. That did not happen. As I sat down with my spouse to have a glass of orange juice she seemed to be very determined and had the stern looks I had rarely seen. She was very and extremely unhappy with my sugar level at 195. I do not blame her – so are my Doctor and all my friends. But the power she wields in making decisions is more than you can imagine. And I respect her decision making also. As we sat down she emphatically said – No More Rasgullas for you.
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