Some people don’t like mushrooms.
Some people don’t like dogs.
Some people who don’t like dogs, also don’t like mushrooms.
Mrs. Chaddha, our next floor neighbor falls in the last category, and I discovered it this morning.
Wifey and I were returning from our usual jaunt to the Mother Dairy, when wifey chanced upon a rather crumpled and unhappy looking mushroom. To be frank, it didn’t look much like a mushroom to me. A sickly orangish un-ovalish thing jutted out from the roots of a tree in front of Mr. Goyal’s house, and if it wasn’t for wife’s keenness to identify and classify flora that could remotely remind her of the time she spent in the North-East of India, the poor little thing would’ve gone un-noticed. But that teeny-weeny mushroom was destined for greater things, and so wifey noticed it and exclaimed, “Oh look! A mushroom!”
Her exclamation was natural. Right in the middle of a white hot summer, you wouldn’t expect to see a mushroom in Noida. In fact, I can’t remember when I last saw one actually growing anywhere – and so, as I noted before, her exclamation was natural.
I grunted my approval on her exclamation. We didn’t stop there to admire it. There was actually nothing much in that puny little mushroom to admire. But a seven-ton voice that could only have belonged to our middle-aged Punjabi neighbor, brought us to a dead-halt.
“Kukurmutte? hain ji?”
(Mushrooms? Aren’t they?)
To understand her loaded statement, you must understand the term kukurmutte first, and to understand kukurmutte, you must break it apart.
Kukurmutte = kukur + mutte.
Kukur = dog.
Mutte = pee.
Thus, kukurmutte translates to “that which is born of a dog’s pee.” The nomenclature is accurate, as you can see.
Dogs pee upon the roots of trees.
Mushrooms grow upon the roots of trees.
So mushrooms are born of dog-pee.
“These dogs,” she grumbled, sounding almost like Mr. Goyal, except that she was powered by the “Proud to be Punjabi” engine, “these dogs, they pee everywhere. And then you get these mushrooms! And to think that people eat mushrooms! I’d never touch it!”
And to think that wifey, at that moment, had a packet of mushrooms in her fridge, which she was going to use for making mushroom-matar (a curry of mushrooms and peas! Yes, there’s a dish calls mushroom-peas – and I am not going overboard twisting the phonetics out of shape to meet my own nefarious goals…)
That night when we sat down for dinner, wifey had news.
She had taken a bowl of her mushroom-matar curry to Mrs. Chaddha. Mrs. Chaddha had taken the bowl from wifey, removed the lid, inhaled deeply and said, “it smells soooo…good!”
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