Every word that you are going to read below is true, nothing added, nothing subtracted.
When Ma called me on Monday afternoon US time (Monday night in India), she was literally shaking. She had discovered oil on the floor, right near the entrance to inside of her kitchen. Not a big deal, as kitchen and oil go hand in hand, but here, the problem was – she could not locate the source. The area where the oil showed up was small, at far end of the kitchen. It was by the side of the kitchen door, on a wall that ran from the door to the side wall of the kitchen, making it a small forgotten behind the door corner. She never stored anything there, as it would obstruct opening of the door. I asked her to check everything, clean everything up, and see if it was still happening.
She cleaned up the entire area, kept newspapers on the spot which got soaked within no time, still more oil kept appearing. She checked every drain opening, all the possible sources that could hold any oil. The responsible wall was bare, so no overhead source either. It still kept seeping. It wasn’t as if the oil was rolling down a crack, it was more like permeating from the floor and walls, without any visible source.
I turned to Google Uncle, and went to work. Not much came up – after all, finding oil on the kitchen floor from an unknown source is not really a common phenomenon, and it wasn’t going to be as if people would be making up blogs or website around them titled – ‘Oil found from unknown source in the kitchen, what to do next’.
All this pointed out to one possibility – there was some kind of mineral reserve underneath, with a great likelihood that there was oil deposit under their house. Somehow, the pressure had thrown the oil up, and it had made it’s way through the foundation, into their kitchen. One possible reason could be plate tectonics – moving of the plates during an earthquake, and that region had experienced two major earthquakes in the last 8 months.
Now the question was, if this was really true, what would happened next? My Baba had already pressed the panic button. Land with oil reserves are touted to be gold mines. However, if one is 70 years old, and the oil happens to be right under where one is sleeping, it can cause one to have sleepless nights. More than the money, one sees flames and bomb blast visions, with things blown into splinters, flying everywhere. More frightening, it was closer to the truth than the visions would have you believe.
The frantic activity increased. I called my dear friend/cousin Barnali (in India) at an ungodly hour in the morning, and spoke with her husband Partha da. An hour later, he was on the phone with his brother-in-law Rohit, who heads the Northern unit of Oil and Natural Gas Commission. A chain of events was set into place, where Mr Rohit called the regional offices, spoke with multiple people, and teams were readied to fly out and check what was happening there as soon as they got the green signal. Meanwhile, Parthda too pulled some of his own political strings, in case evacuation became inevitable. Barnali, on her part, began talking to some relatives in the same city as my parents live in, who she does not normally speak with unless it’s of utmost necessity. She got things into place where a cousin who would drop in at my parent’s house and record a video to submit to ONGC, following which, the teams would fly out. There was a lot of excitement too – an oil reserve meant loads of money for many.
Meanwhile, my parents were given strict instructions to move out everything that was flammable from the kitchen, which they did. The next step was informing the district administration. Which meant Fire brigade and the police would soon be at my parent’s place, with the possibility that they would be cordoning off the whole area, possibly evacuate even. If that happened, where would my parents go? My sister’s place was the most viable choice.
There was nothing much that I could do from here. To say I was hyperventilating would be an understatement. That was definitely not helping my parents much. So I turned my attention, and theirs, to all the GOOD possibilities. “Imagine the amount of money you would be getting Baba!”. My Baba’s pessimism wasn’t going to back down that conveniently. ” What money! If they find oil, they will evacuate us, and give us compensation. If I know the Indian govt, AG’s (my present 9 year old) son would be making trips to get all the compensation out.”
Still, I didn’t give up. ” It doesn’t work that way anymore Baba, else Reliance wouldn’t be so big”, I reasoned. That was clever of me, because he bought some of that. So we made plans on what great things could happen next. “Oh well, see the bright side Baba,” I said, “at least you can send me tickets to fly out whenever you miss me, or when I fight with hubby Mr GG. ”
” Oh that would be more expensive for you, because Mr GG will fly right after to take you back,” he countered. I have to give it to Baba, he does not give up on his pessimism easily. So we went back and forth. We shifted to Kolkata, in a big designer apartment which would have a club house AND a private swimming pool. Also, Ma would definitely replace the TV, the colors are not good anymore.
On that good note, I went to bed.
I woke up very early today. Thought of blasts when your parents are around are not quite conducive to restful slumber. I got on phone, and asked what the status was.
Turns out, there was no oil reserve underneath. There was some overhead though, about a liter of it. To be more precise, inside a heavy black cotton bag hanging on a hook behind the door to the kitchen. A few months back, my sister had bought a packet of oil, and had stored it in there and promptly forgot all about it. The black bag was later on stuffed with other polythene bags. It was then kept over another bag, so the bottom was pushed a good distance away from the door. The packet – a poly packet of oil – somehow got punctured, and the oil filled the bag. Being thick, the cloth soaked much of it, and then started dripping the excess slowly, which fell in tiny little droplets. Every time the door moved, the droplets changed position, sometimes hitting the wall, on others, pooling on the floor.
The whole blasted adventure came to a crashing halt. My Ma now had the herculean task of making the embarrassing phone call that would halt the embarrassingly large chain of events already set into motion.
My Baba would be no oil Sheikh. And Parthda would never pick up my phone again.
On the bright side, I won’t have to deal anymore with the possibility of blasted stuff and….errrr…..let’s leave it at that.
Poor poor Mr Rohit though!
All’s well when there’s no oil well.
To celebrate my parents well being and to get me out of depression for being deprived of all that oil money, Mr GG cooked me some lovely eggs the following Sunday, something he is really really good at, and the only thing he would ever bring himself to cook (I don’t complain, because he is so good at whatever he does, that I need him not to cook for self preservation).
- 4 eggs
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes
- ½ green bell pepper cubed
- ¼ cup onions chopped big
- 2 jalapenos slit length wise
- 1 pod garlic whole
- ¼ tsp brown sugar
- salt, pepper, lime juice to sprinkle
- 1 tbs oil
- Heat oil and fry garlic
- Add brown sugar and immediately add onions
- Fry onions in hot oil till light brown
- Add jalapenos
- Mix in bell peppers and cherry tomatoes
- Fry till they glisten
- Add eggs directly and starts mixing in with the frying vegetables.
- Take off from heat once the eggs are cooked.
- Sprinkle salt, pepper and lime juice.
- Serve hot.
** Some names have been changed to keep confidentiality.**
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This recipe is linked to Amee’s Savory Fit and Fabulous Fridays #35