“All characters appearing in this work are real. Resemblance to any other living or dead creature is surely comical.
And bears NO resemblance to E.L.James Novels (Thankfully)”
I have never tried to defy my premature grey hair. But people around me have seriously tried to undo my “Salt n Peppa” head. Since the last 15 years, and more in the recent past I have gotten some wonderful reactions from people, some of which I have mentioned below
“Yeh dye hai?” Is a common question when they look at my hair
“No, I threw myself in a flour sack” Is my under-the-breath answer
“Are these your own?”
"No, I poach Zebras"
“Aap dye karlain?” Is a frequently thrown around advice.
“Thank God my hair color brings me some respect” Is my usual retort
“Dye nahin karna? ” Is another question in the series. An order, a command and a question at the same time…met with only my smile, which actually means “No”
“Will you please dye your hair, because we look older when we hang around with you” Say most of my friends
“Kindly don’t hang around, otherwise you will die” Say I
“ I have just the shampoo for you from Lo’real” says a friend working for the company.
“Do I look like a guinea pig to you?”
And being in Singapore “You kee your hai natura?”
If I were not met with an immediate reaction, secondary reaction would be:
“Ashi kee bahu ko dekha….hawwww (goes on for a good five minutes, until lips get tired of the “Awww” position)…. chalo sanu kee” Often a reaction one would find from Aunties in Lahore
“Why don’t you ask your daughter to color her hair…what kind of a mother are you?” My mothers’ maternal love is questioned
“My mother-in-law was asking me why don’t you dye your hair?” A friend tells me
“Kyun rishta pakka karna hai” Is my usual sarcastic undertone
“Haye…baal to bahut safaid ho gaye hain” Hayee..A pitying statement from my parents.
Reactions like these and many more have not affected me in the least bit (Obviously). However, I have to admit that my social circle has changed. I now befriend my mother in laws’ friends (or they befriend me?), coincidentally all grey haired and ageing gracefully.
One such graceful lady happened to be in Singapore, and we “hung” out at a local café when this photo was taken and she named it “Fifty Shades of Grey”. Much to my amazement she had read the actual bestseller by the same name and loved it (Aaj kal kee Aunties…phew).
Mother of three, grandmother of eight, ardent tea drinker, Mahjong player and a fabric painter, Mrs Neelum Hak is a woman of beauty, grace, wit and humor. Born and bred in Lahore, she got married at the age of 22 and happily settled down in Karachi soon after. Years later she ferociously fought a futile battle against cancer with and for her husband but sadly lost him in 2006. Yet, her humor, love of life, strength of heart and character kept her going. (So much going that she was reading ‘50 Shades of Grey’ and ‘40 Rules of Love’ and making friends with 36 year olds simultaneously – wah!). She is also a proud Diploma holder in Textiles from the Indus Valley of Arts in Karachi, which she completed at the age of 62.
“Husn Parast” as her daughter calls her can talk about religion, bringing up children, foul language, dirty jokes, Bollywood gossip, travel, fashion and much more. Whilst she was vacationing in Singapore I had to coax her, use some grey haired and friendship power, to share a recipe with me that she had devised and built upon over the years. Reluctantly, with much complaints and laughs she agreed.
Please allow me to introduce a seductive fusion of caramel pudding and baked bread and butter pudding – “Anda Puttin” by the lady herself. The caramelized sugar, further sweetened by raisins on the top cuts neatly into a creamy pudding, similar to caramel custard yet holds a firm texture due to the bread incorporated. Gently steamed it comes out like a butter cake yet slices into a delicate softness.
Sugar measurements are based on “andaaza”
Steamed Bread and Butter Pudding
Ingredients (Serves 8-10 sweet - loving people – don’t necessarily have to be grey haired)
4 tsp. (0.75 oz.) sugar
½ Cup (4 oz.) Raisins
18 tsp. (3.75 oz.) Sugar
3 Cups (24 fluid oz.) Full fat Milk
1 ½ tbsp. (0.75 oz.) Unsalted Butter
Pinch of Salt (Absolute must)
3-4 Slices of Stale Bread
1 ½ tsp. Vanilla Essence
Take a 3-quart (3 litre) cooking pan (without long handle) and melt 4 tsp. of sugar on medium heat until brown and uniformly caramelized (Approximately 5-7 minutes). Sprinkle half of the raisins and set aside.
In another mixing bowl gently beat eggs and sugar together (admoohay honay kee zaroorat nahin says the lady)
Add 2 cups of milk and salt in the egg mixture
Gently scald the remaining 1-cup of milk with butter and pour in the above mixture, stirring constantly
Tear up the bread in small pieces including the sides and tip all of them in the custard
Throw in the remaining raisins and vanilla and pour the custard in the caramelized sugar pan
Cover with lid and place in a bigger pan
Fill up with water, halfway up to the height of the smaller pan, which contains the custard mixture
Let the water come to a boil and then lower heat and simmer for 40 minutes.
Check the doneness with a toothpick (please don’t put in a knife and gash the mixture instructs the chef) and take off heat immediately.
Let it stand for 10 minutes and carefully lift the pan out from the water
De-mold carefully onto a flat plate
Feasting Recommendations: To enhance further the lady drizzled warm butterscotch sauce on the pudding just before serving. Can be made a day in advance and served warm or cold. A perfect dessert for all seasons, shades and age groups
Back to the woman of many shades she feels that mothers-in-law have the highest value (of nuisance) in the society and gently gives a word of advice to all the daughters (in and out law) “baat sab kee suno, lekin marzee sirf apnee karo”
And on this note “Laters Baby” from the book Fifty Shades of Grey