Friday, September 25, 2009

dark secrets

Nurture felt slightly nauseous as Nature dunked a gulab jamun in a pool of syrup.

She looked away from the pulpy mass and focussed on the task at hand. She had to teach Nature to say lurrrve, and judging by the subject’s inordinate fondness for sweets, the best way seemed to be with a dessert.

“I think it’s time you graduated to a more sophisticated dessert, like dark chocolate.” she spoke firmly.

“I can’t. It’s not sweet”, Nature replied cheerfully, as she swallowed the gulab jamun mash. “And my family genes forbid me to ingest any dessert that doesn’t come with a diabetes guarantee card”.

“It’s a cultivated taste you know” Nurture spoke with a confidence born of centuries of success with white mice, rhesus monkeys and drooling dogs. “Come on, try some”.

“I’ve tried it” nature said, as she looked longingly at nurture’s untouched bowl. “But my ancestors got together and made me gag. Especially my great uncle – have I told you how he once ate 20 laddoos at a…”.

“Yes, many times.” Nurture interrupted, insensitive to family ties of mere protein. “It’s usually followed by the story about some glutton who used to have no space in his thali for pooris when he served himself shrikhand”.

Nature looked a bit miffed at having her family tree squeezed into two stories.

“I remember them because they’re fascinating stories” Nurture rushed in to make amends. “But the past is… well, predictable. Where’s your sense of adventure?”

“That was bred out generations ago.” Nature replied sadly. “My dad’s idea of adventure comprises using both hands to move pieces on a chess board. My mum feels the thrill of a bungee jumper when she bargains her way to two free bunches of coriander”.

“Ok so forget adventure then” said Nurture. “What about being cool? Don’t you want to be one of those elitists who discuss the finer nuances of complex flavour profiles?”

“I do”. Nature admitted, influenced by a few stray but powerful genes from an aunt who in the 70s, had served caramel custard at her son’s wedding. Twenty years later, the aunt still recounted how some of her uncool relatives (from her husband’s side of course) had whispered the name of the dessert in case people thought they were swearing.

Nurture saw victory inching closer and pressed on. “For a moment, forget all those chromosomes. Let’s pick up that bar of dark chocolate and take the first step to getting cool. I’ve got an eleven step process of tasting dark chocolate that might help you.”

“I know it.” Nature said. “I tried it with milk chocolate. By step 2, the bar was finished. By step six, my intestinal enzymes had got to it.”

“Yech it’s your sweet tooth”. Nurture said disdainfully.

“We haven’t had a sweet tooth in our family for generations”. Nature countered. "Ceramic teeth, yes, many times over. Metal teeth, check. Empty gummy spaces, bingo. But no sweet tooth after the age of 10.”

Nurture felt herself sinking deep into despair. She wished she were working with tomatoes or some other subject that didn’t have vocal cords.

“So forget it then. I guess I’ll just have to live with the fact that I couldn’t teach you to say lurrrve.”

“Lurrrve?”. Nature asked. “I don’t even know what it means.”

“It’s well, a verbal version of a machine gun.” Nurture explained without much interest. “Because of its ability to reduce people’s self confidence to pulp.”

“Ok, I want it already”. Nature said. Actually, she was mouthing the desire of a distant relative who achieved the same result by referring to designers by first names or nicknames. The relative usually topped it with a pitying look when listeners thought choo was a sneeze or that Nina was a neighbour’s name.

“Only certain things can get you the power of lurrrve, For example, you can lurrrve Norwegian salmon, not bangda fry, unless you’re doing the inverse snobbery thing. You’re allowed to lurrrve unpasteurized stilton, not cheese slices. It doesn’t matter if you prefer cheese slices. You just can’t lurrrve them. Of course the easiest way to join the lurrrve club is through dark chocolate, but I guess…”

“Wait” Nature interrupted. “Did you say Norwegian salmon? I do genuinely love it, I mean lurrrve it”.

“Good for you” Nurture said, her mind already preoccupied with strategies to reduce a normal person to a size zero.

"So why don’t I just think of Norwegian salmon when I’m talking about dark chocolate? I lurrrve dark chocolate. How’s that?"

There was no answer.

“I could then talk about cocoa percentages… I can do that quite easily.Nurture are you even listening?”

Nurture wasn't listening. She wasn't even in the roomt. She had left already knowing that her mission had been successful but that she couldn’t quite take the credit for it. Unless of course, she used her sense of adventure to fabricate a story…