“Fat potatoes, round potatoes,
oddly shaped and sound potatoes
Peppered and buttered by the pound potatoes
A bowl of comfort found potatoes.”
This was probably my first rhyme about mashed potatoes, I have loved mashed potatoes always! Probably because it was my mom’s way of telling me I was her favourite kid! You see, I belong to a punjabi family and it is a ritual to eat Aloo paranthas (spicy potato pancakes) for brunch every sunday in my pompous punjabi household.
Amidst the hustle bustle of the kitchen I’d walk in grumpy from sleep and hungry as a dog and my lovely mother would smother me with a generous helping of mashed potatoes seasoned with pepper and salt and topped with butter. She would keep some extra for me while she made the stuffing for the paranthas and no one was allowed to have that one bowl of mashed potatoes.
As I grew up mashed potatoes became a kind of symbol for home, whenever I miss my mother I boil some potatoes and try and make the same bowl she used to make for me, I never come close to it.
Perhaps love is actually an ingredient that can make food mysteriously sumptuous. Believe me I have had a lot of food! from fancy cuisines to horribly quirky but surprisingly yummy experiments.
But nothing matches up to Mashed potatoes!
Now as a weekend chef I can tell you one thing, You either love the food you’re making or the people you’re making it for, only then can you make magic even with mashed potatoes.
*sigh* I love you ma
A quirky pair these two- Photographer Vipul Amar who has an aversion to the glamorous theatrics associated to photography and Psychologist Harsheen K. Arora who was aching to find a way of creative expression and innovation in psychologic techniques. And together, they created something so phenomenal, it could be life transforming for anyone looking for an insight into his own true self.
A friend common to the three of us introduced me to them. And when I met these two, the sheer faith and truth in their aura was overwhelming for me. This was a pair of pure genius with the proverbial heart of gold. I had only heard of ‘healers’ , you know people whose mere presence in a room can make you feel light and give you the strength to carry on and face every adversity in life. Being in their company makes one realise what it truly means to be in a place completely free of judgements, where your actions don’t have to be calculated and your appearance wont be what you are judged on.
Vipul sir, A dark skinned man with a deep voice and eyes that are both fierce and protective at the same time, eyes with a lifetime of pitfalls and bruises hidden in the crow feet they get when he smiles. Eyes that will make you marvel at the fact that living life right is not about not making any mistakes, but it is about taking all the mistakes, the backstabbing and ruthlessness of youth and moulding it into the gems that adorn the fabric of your character. He is a man who cannot wait for heaven to give him respite, he has his own definition of heaven, and he has made it for himself with his own bare hands while there is still blood gushing in them.
Harsheen Arora or Sheena Ma’am as she is fondly known. A petite woman with the magnanimity of a swan and the regal gait of a lioness, a woman who has come to define for me what a woman actually should be. Being in the same room with her can be so soothing and so freeing it makes the soul buoyant as if it has just been freed from some previously unseen shackles and has just realised it had wings. There is immaculate elegance in her actions and fearless acceptance in her person. She can decode your personality before you can finish saying your name. The only thing I can hope is that one day I find the luck to be able to be mentored by her.
Let me just give you a brief over view (please bear with the ‘journalistic’ tone of the paragraph): In 2012, Psychologist Harsheen K. Arora came up with a breathtakingly unique concept that she called The Stupid Eye Project, Which brings out a person’s imagery of the ‘ideal self’ using therapeutic imagery and numerous individual and group therapy sessions. She partnered with Vipul Sir who would conceptualise and create a photo shoot for each participant based on the results of his or her therapy sessions, The shoot along with therapeutic intervention during the shoot led the person to feel closer to his ideal self. The project has become a published study in The world Mental Health Conference. Mr. Amar and Ms. Harsheen have now partnered to create a brand called The ‘V’ Renaissance that is dedicated to the revival of art associated with the Renaissance era, The brand focusses on the most exquisite material and precise craftsmanship to create products so flawless they truly look as if they belong to another time.
Ever so rarely you meet people whose mere existence, every action, word and belief can inspire you to be the best of who you can be. I am Extremely lucky to have found two, and overwhelmed with the affection you two bless me with.
This is the story of Fat Potato…well kind of.
Once upon a time, there was a fat potato, who was thin as a stick, that’s what they’d call her back then,
“Oi Celery… careful or the wind will take you with it!”
She hated it but she ignored it.
Her mama always told her she was special, so she waited for her special day to come. Everyday, even after a woman took her mother with her, she waited. The grocer Jean was kind of fond of her so he never threw her away, even though nobody picked her for their shopping cart.
Potato days are not very long you know, one human hour is two potato days, the woman took her mother 48 days back and if she remembered correctly Jean had got her here from the farm around 96 days back.
They would pick her, examine her like doctors examine patients as if she were some kind of specimen or anorexia patient and then leave her with a sigh making “tut tut” sounds with their tongues as they picked other big fat round potatoes for their stews and stuffings.
She always hoped someone would toss her in the basket and say something nice about her but no, it was always “what a poor little potato, who would buy that?” or “Hey Jean,this some special kid of yours? throw it away before it gets mouldy and spoils the other vegetables.” but he never did, good ol’ Jean.
“97…98…99…100!” Fat potato just realised it had been a hundred days since she was at Jean’s “I wonder how long is he going to put up with me” she thought “why couldn’t I be fat like others, god should’ve just made me a celery”
Just then she some one picked her up, it was a young girl with a pimple speckled face…her eyes widened at first Fat Potato thought it was disgust but she realised it was happiness as the sun shone in the round discs of her brown eyes.
“Oh you’re perfect!” she said, she picked a couple of more potatoes, Paid Jean and went away humming happily to herself. Leaving a surprised Jean staring after her
Fat Potato became the first French Fry and all potatoes who wanted to be french fries had to be cut into Fat Potato’s shape, but no one was quite as perfect as Fat Potato.