That first whistle; it starts hesitantly, until it shatters the silence with it’s shrill sound. Puckered lips and a controlled exhalation of breath does not a whistle make, and any one who remembers their first whistle will agree that it is not all childs play.
Pehli seeti, the first whistle means many things to many people; but it means a whole lot more to anyone who has cooked rice.
So you’ve put the rice and water in a pressure cooker, and put it on the flame, in anticipation to a satisfying if not a sumptuous meal, only to keep waiting.
Has it been 5 minutes, or more like 15?
Why has the pehli seeti not blown? Was the water less? Was it too much?
Is the flame too low? Is there enough pressure in the pressure cooker?
Is there a leak, is the lid damaged?
Should you open the lid and check?
Should you raise that weight attached on top of the cooker, in an effort to coax the cooker to whistle?
Will you have to order take out again tonight?
Self doubt fills your head along with impatience to hurry things along – until you hear a hissing sound, the first few stuttering beginnings of, followed by a bull blown gusty whistle. You exhale. Everything is right with the world again.
Most things in life take time to build momentum, much like cooking rice. It feels like hammering away at a wall, much like in shawshank redemption. Practising the piano; finger exercises which do not in any way show signs of improvement. Exercise regimes which seem to be an exercise in futility. Studying for entrance exams, applying to colleges, trying to get your book published, trying to get your article accepted in indexed journals. You’ve followed all the ‘guidelines’ and taken advice from ‘experienced seniors’ and yet your attempts at cooking your own ‘rice’ seems like a failed attempt. Self doubts ‘ I can’t cook rice’ to rationalizations ‘everyone can’t cook rice’ to arrogance ‘ I don’t need to cook rice I have parents who will send me to private colleges for already cooked rice’ to other psycho babble which makes you think ‘I never wanted to eat rice in the first place.’ Yes life is tough for us rice cookers.
The pehli seeti teaches us the joys of patience. Not all of us will dig for oil, or mine for diamonds, they too teach us to keep doing what we are doing and to keep the faith.
Childhood quotes kept telling us that the difference between a quitter and a winner was to get up one last time after the fall. Somehow all that gyaan gets lost amongst all the other stuff we learnt in school.
The pehli seeti reminds us that we can not only have our rice, but eat it too.