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One day I was checking to see if the rice was cooked, like I do on most days. Before I go on, a word about how we Mallus cook rice. Unlike many others, Mallus don’t traditionally pressure cook rice. So we don’t depend on the ‘whistles’ to tell us if it is done.

Rice is usually cooked in pot-shaped aluminium or steel vessels or even those with a flat base, which have lids that fit, and can be opened in between cooking to check whether the rice is cooked to our satisfaction. Some like their rice well cooked and others want the rice to be only cooked just so, and then there are the various degrees in between these two. When the rice is done the way we like, we let the extra water drain off by tilting the vessel with the lid clamped on it. So that’s how a Mallu cooks rice.

Getting back to the day I was talking of, I walked into the kitchen pushed aside the lid, plunged the ladle in, and drew out a sample to check. Whatever individual preferences may be, native wisdom says that the rice should have ‘fluffed out’ to have been cooked the right way. The exact word used is the same as you use for a flower. the rice should have “bloomed” to have been cooked right. I had never really understood what this ‘blooming’ look was all about, and so found my own way of doing it, which was by eating a few grains. But that had its disadvantages and has not always given me the same results. Sometimes, on eating a few grains, I feel the rice is not done. Leaving it on the stove for a few more minutes, I end up with overcooked rice on my hands. It has happened the other way too, where I have ended up with uncooked rice.

Anyway, that particular day when I peeped into the vessel on the stove, the rice looked so white and fluffy! I could see clearly what “native wisdom” meant by rice “blooming”. It must be the new rice that the L & M got this time, I remember thinking to myself, it sure looks so pearly and pretty. The sample I had drawn had the lines on each grain well defined. Looking at it I wondered why I had ever found the checking-by-sight method difficult. Really, what was wrong with me all these years that I could not “see” what was so clearly visible?!

Then the truth hit me, like a truckload of rice-filled sacks. I had been reading and still had my glasses on. That was what gave me a better and clearer picture.

In life too if you have your “glasses” on at all times, everything becomes that much clearer. But sadly, we don’t most times. So we miss things that could otherwise have been easier to identify. We use less optimum ways to reach the same place and end up in disastrously situations. It is always good to wear your “glasses” to “see” things better and I certainly don’t mean the ones the optometrist has prescribed.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

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