No, this isn’t about my pay-packet, or my earnings from other sources (let’s just call it dealing, I mean trading); both are currently suffering like just about every species of flora planted along a busy inter-state.
In fact, if I were to ever write about making money, it wouldn’t be a blog, I think the correct term would be SMS.
I am talking of the other green, the not so pretty green, the green that glints in the eye of a wild bob-cat on heat before it digs its claws into your collar bone. I am talking of the green that would possibly make you do the same thing to Mr. Neighbour when he parked his new Arnage Coupe in full view of your morning breakfast tea.
I am talking of the most consuming of sins, that sexy little devil called Envy.
I didn’t know envy could be spelt NV. I just thought most of the Yuppies in my colony driving cars beyond their means (but well within their dads’) were proclaiming allegiance to some new sign for victory, or a university, or Che, or a cricket team.
(Wait-a-minute, they didn’t have IPL when you were young Magan! True, I am just trying to feel young; let me.)
Such abbreviation was lost on me. Mind you these were the pre-West Coast Hip-Hop movement days, well before every nonsensical Hindi serial added multiple letters to be balanced albeit perpetual phonetic aberrations.
So much envy in this world, I wonder if we could tap it and use it to power the refrigerator; or the water heater; whichever works. You see, the thing started the TV show with much inspiration, some justified pre-emptive consternation, and bright-eyed aspiration.
Add to that tank-loads of perspiration, it was unbearably hot in Turkey!
Our idea was to do a good TV show and you are the best judge as to how far we have reached our target; make that ‘how closely’. We intended to cover local eating habits, cultures and customs, dishes and delicacies, no matter where they were to be found.
Ours was not a tawdry trick to dine in the most expensive, coveted of restaurants. Sure it helped what with reservations backed up for months and us being last-minute arrivals but that was not the essence of our exercise.
We were trying to find veritable and authoritative sources, be it the Scottish kitchens of Tony Singh or the cooking school at Swinton Park.
But somehow people have been dazzled by the interiors of the restaurants I have been filmed in. I mean, it’s either that or my exuberant personality only further enhanced by my shiny wavy hair.
Viewers have fooled themselves into believing that mine is an endeavour of hedonism, to scavenge and comb through every fine-dining West of the Middle. Oh, how mistaken are ye, all of little faith…
And this reductive environment is ideal breeding ground for the green monster. On an average I get three people tell me everyday how they love my show, watch it regularly and then how they are jealous of all the good food I eat.
A usual follow-up is if I require an assistant. I politely ask most to get their legs waxed and get in line. Women too.
While this may sound like an ungrateful rant, it is anything but; I love being told that my show is watched and liked. It is the best thing to hear. Comparatively, I feel way less exquisite after a milk and honey bath.
But nonetheless, even as they praise me with garlands, they sacrifice me at the altar of ignorance – the new proclaimed Hannibal of haute-cuisine.
I am reminded of the king who wanted the best clothes in the kingdom and the people told him he was actually prancing about in the buff. While I am not in a position as sensitive as skivvies, I do feel the urge to clarify that I am just a guy doing his job.
To help put in context, let me elucidate an average shoot day. Early morning, I do not eat brekkie with the rest of the crew as I may have to eat later.
In fact, I rarely eat with the crew. They starve for days on end while I put away food for an extended and breeding family of human-sized rabbits.
I rarely eat with anyone. I can’t remember when last I had a normal meal with dim lighting and company that sat across me and talked back in words more than, “Roll”, “Cue”, and “Cut!”
I think it would be safe to say that I eat more food in one day than my crew put together. I eat two lunches, which may not be too far spaced in time. They are multiple courses. If, we chance upon some nice little snack along our way, we stop and shoot. I, of course, re-eat.
Most such stops are followed by pre-fixed stops, like, say, a dinner, or two. Fact: Food makes you fat. Combined with alcohol it makes you swell like a human zeppelin. If I keep growing fat and can’t tour any more I may turn magician.
My biggest trick would be to make monumental amounts of food disappear. Like say a Great Wall build of Crispy Peking Duck. Or perhaps, eat a restaurant all the way to bankruptcy and make that disappear!
I am planning on buying shares of Danone Actimel and natural Yoghurt division, not to mention Pudin Hara and Zintac! Nothing else that has happened since Renaissance could make their stock accelerate faster.
So, that is my life; envious still? It ain’t about fancy restaurants. It is about food, about authentic and good food from places sinister and not so sinister, and how far a true gourmand would go to find it all.
It would help if I could actually walk to it. But, for now, I drive to them and tuck in. I am driving my crew to killing for food, driving myself mad with problems of weight-gain and let me assure you that there is nothing as weight-gain in the right places, weight is not that smart.
But most concernedly, I am driving people to envy me because I eat and drink. To be loved because you arouse envy albeit a nice friendly envy – what a delectable dilemma I harbour. Not too keen that waxing appointment now are ya’!?
But I love my life and I love people envying me, in that nice way they do. Keep on doing it and telling me about it whenever you see me; it makes the extra kilos weigh lesser on my conscience.
Which brings us to the unrelated question: As with my receding and thinning hairline, where do I stop using shampoo and start using face wash?