In more innocent times, when boys were still boys (read made of "snips and snails, and puppy dog tails") these men were the only ones that mattered*. They were the reason why I hopped, skipped and jumped all the way from the bus stop back home every afternoon after school, the reason I ran up the flight of stairs to our third floor apartment, the reason why lunch took more than an hour. I never missed our weekday appointments and sat separated by the heavy, tinged glass of the Sonodyne TV – same time, every afternoon. They were as different as different can be. One was a slightly plump, smiley faced Indian cook and the other a sauve, lean con man who paraded around as a detective. A class mate's brother famously declared that watching said cook do his thing during lunch made the insipid food his Mom cooked more palatable. Needless to say it did not go down to well with Mom.
On those hot afternoons (I only remember school days as hot or rainy) with the curtains drawn to keep the heat out, we would watch Sanjeev Kapoor cook up something terribly homely yet delectable. My mom would be busy taking notes while we tried to convince ourselves that the masoor dal on our plates was actually dal makhani. It was well known that moms, aunties, kitty party ladies and other assorted inhabitants of aunty-dom were adoring fans...he was the new, respectable version of the film hero crush from their college days. Unlike a famous Sikh cook with a penchant for adding a dash of sherry or a splash of rum to all his dishes, Sanjeev Kapoor cooked with readily available and totally kosher ingredients. Average housewives could cook like him without causing the neighborhood baniya to hiccup hysterically. Besides his recipes turned out perfect unlike those demonstrated on the dowdy Doordarshan cooking shows and the possession of a professional degree automatically elevated his status a couple of notches.
After 30 minutes of Khana Khazana, it was time for Remington Steele and Laura Holt. A romantic caper disguised as detective show, it was funny and made us fall terribly in love with the suave man who went on to become the most famous Bond of them all. Admit it, if you think Sean Connery was the best Bond ever its because you were either born on the wrong side of the 50’s or you just feel bad about taking the honors away from the guy who did it first. However, coming back to Steele, like the Internet revolution, the cable TV revolution was still light years away from our tiny town. So most inhabitants of that strange place called Aunty–dom, that I mentioned earlier, usually viewed English shows suspiciously and would not allow their babies (of corruptible-putty-in-cranium fame) even a glimpse of the sexy Mr. Steele. Thank God, my mother had no such views and we were spared a miserable, deprived childhood. So for a few years, our afternoons were full of Remington Steele trying to outwit Laura Holt, with poor Mildred thrown in their midst. Mildred went on to become Ray Romano’s conniving mom and every time I watch “Everyone Loves Raymond” I swear I can still hear her go “but Boss...”. After both the shows and lunch was dispensed with, my mother would sometimes let us help us make a titbit or snack that we had seen in the show. And while my sister and I fiddled around in the kitchen the three of us would discuss the plot of the next days episode of Remington Steele.
Sanjeev Kapoor went to do more shows, and write a gazillion cook books and Brosnan became Bond. As for me, I swear by the formers recipes (ever since I made a much appreciated Marie biscuit cake in college for the club) and never miss latters movie. This reminds me, I better add “Matador” to my Netflix lists if I intend to maintain that claim**and might as well add some old episodes of Remington Steele while I am there.
* apart from Daddy dearest off course.
**maybe not every film, but come on how may of you have watched a movie called "Live Wire" just because it starred the man.