Thursday, February 25, 2010

Kande Pohe Interviews

Intra : A Latin word meaning "within" or inside...

An interview is actually an intra-view. Where the interviewer looks inside your mind, to get an inside view of your thinking.

If you ignore the 'n' interviews at various levels one goes through, for jobs, where you are viewed as a possible thing to spend money on, and earn revenue from, I have had precisely 2 interviews in my life.

One interview in 2 parts on Blogadda recently, where I never saw the face of the interviewer.

And the other interview, about 38 years ago when I was an undergraduate in college, staying in a college hostel.

My college in Pune has a long history. The women's hostel or ladies' hostel as it is called has existed almost for a century now today. My mother went to that college and stayed in the hostel in the 1930's. They have various plaques and things on walls to commemorate building of various wings , thanks to some very generous donors.

30 years late in the late 60's another generous donor, an alumni, who was married into one of India's richest families, who was my mother's classmate and even remembered her , donated for a separate modern hostel wing, with slightly more modern facilities, where allocation of rooms was based on academic performance.

They were all double rooms, with the mandatory two beds, two tables, two chairs, two bookshelves, and something that resembled a broad cement mantelpiece above a bunch of built in cement cupboards. The food facilities were restricted to lunch and dinner, while we were supposed to figure out ourselves about breakfast, tea, and evening snacks etc on our own. Consequently, it was considered smart to own a kerosene stove, and subscribe to a milk delivery arrangement. We had two kerosene stoves.

Early mornings would see us making tea/coffee, and boiling a big container of milk, and making toast, since sliced bread was generally bought every few days. The same happened in the evenings when we returned from practicals/labs. Occasionally, someone would drop by with some alarming exciting news, and the stove would be forgotten, till there was a huge hiss followed by a smell of burned milk, as the boiling milk, completely overflowed out of the vessel and fell on red hot metal . In our junior year we had advanced to cooking various curries and rice, and that was useful when the messing arrangements and menu there was not to our liking.

One fine day we were told that a lady from the editorial section of a very prestigious and well known Marathi magazine was interviewing girls who had lived in college hostels/dorms, something that was on the rise, due to great awareness of education-for-girls. Someone decided that my roommate and I, (who roomed together all 4 years), would be ideal fodder. We both talked a lot, were outgoing, were fairly steeped in the hostel culture, and we were asked to also have some other younger girls with us when the interview happened.

The day was preceded by a massive cleaning effort, and dumping of unfolded clothes into cupboards tightly shut. We actually sprayed perfume in he room and ran the fan for a longish time, hoping to get rid of the lingering aroma of burnt spilt milk, which was like a trademark smell. Some fresh milk was bought and duly stored , sugar and tea containers were filled, and cookies and biscuits were kept ready. Someone thought up the idea of Kande Pohe, to impress the interviewer lady. Actually, it was the only snack I could make well then.

D-day. The lady duly arrived. A very kind lady, she was dripping with empathy for us girls, staying far away from the folds of the family. All kinds of nice and interesting questions were asked, amazement was expressed by her over our resourcefulness, our family backgrounds were asked and so on. Then we asked her if she would like tea/coffee. The lady was immensely overcome by our perceived generosity, the effort to be hospitable in such meagre surroundings without a proper kitchen etc . And we got busy with the preparing of Kande Pohe. Which needed a lot of onion to be cut.

This was actually very "tearfully" achieved, as none of us were used to cutting so much onion without lachrymal flow of great magnitude . Stuff was all in process, the water was boiling, milk was boiling, Kande Pohe was ready, and the Hostel guard came in , announcing that one the girls in our group had a visitor. There was no concept of co-ed dorms then, a fellow could get into trouble even stepping into the garden, forget hostel rooms, and so you went out to see and meet whoever. The interviewer lady was getting an expert view of "life in the hostel", visitors and all.

The only trouble was , she also asked us some more things then. With one of the girls gone out, we didn't realize that the milk was unattended, and the stove clearly did not have a simmer function. In those non IT days, it behaved in a binary fashion, full or zero.

Just when we were all having a good laugh and patting ourselves on how well everything seemed to be going, there was a familiar hissing noise, some darting glances, and all of us ignored the interviewer and ran to save the milk, and hide the smelly trauma.

To cut a long story short, the interviewer was treated to some candid hostel episodes, and she relished our Kande Pohe, amidst some doubtful coffee/tea, and a pervading whiff of "burnt milk on stove" . But she clearly remembered her childhood. She was a very nice lady, who reassured us that all this stuff was par for the course, not to worry, and that she had enjoyed talking to us.

The article duly appeared in the leading womens magazine of that time. Our parents were relived to know that the daughters were behaving OK, and proudly showed the issue to their friends.

The lady subsequently left that magazine, and is today the esteemed editor of a very wonderful magazine, "Miloon sarya Zanee" dedicated to women's issues in society, publishing quality literature , sometimes from even around the world.

She probably doesn't remember this insignificant blip in her life as a interviewer and editor.

But that was my first interview.

Times have changed.

With Blogadda, I never got to see a face to go with the words. I didn't have to rush around organizing the house, making snacks, and yes, boiling the milk.

If the milk did boil over, the interviewer was not treated to the burning smell.

And certainly the Adda types missed out on the Kande Pohe.


  1. How delightful.

    If I were to INTRAview two young ladies, I would be absolutely tickled by offerings of food/beverage made in the room.

    I love your memories, gappa. They are beginning to be interwoven with my own. I kind of like it.



  2. First timer here. Read ur first part of the interview at Blogadda and immediately put your blog in my reader.

    That was one wonderful account of hostel days and how very efficient you and your friends have been.

    Even though the milk overflowed and all, it was thought of hospitality that won you all over, in that interview.

    I am just off to read the second part at blogadda.

    Love the poha !!! :)

  3. 'INTRA' VIEW is a good insight. I enjoyed your post.

  4. Intra-view - today you enhance the knowledge. Thanks.

  5. Loved this one. I still havent mastered the art of boiling milk. Or rather, it waits until I am distracted and boils over. Can empathise

  6. Took me back to my college days. strangel I've just written about my own hostel life in response to usha's tag. Haven't finished it yet. do you still prepare 'kande poha' with the same enthu?coming to interview you. BTW will go thro' your blog adda stuff soon.

  7. This post reminds me of my own hostel days. We never progressed to curries and rice- though I do remember making Shira. :)

    BTW, you were interviewed by Vidya Bal? Wow!

  8. I bet it was a memorable interview for her young girls, trying so hard to make everything perfect;) A sweet story!

  9. Yes, but we got to see your face :)) That was a bonus; funny how we imagine people completely differently from how they are, no?

  10. Came back to say that i've read your interview and got to know you better.Absolutely with you on agelessbonding. Must read the rest.

  11. Certainly the adda types missed out on the Poha ! The next time around...along with payasam comes one more item on the agenda !


    So, it turns out, you are not new to giving interviews after all ! ;D

  12. Pearl Thank you. And I thought you were to do an India trip early this year ? Would have offered you some Kande Pohe ....

    Umsreflections Thank you. And I still love the Poha too....

    NSIyerThank you. Always interesting to introduce new terminology (to management types:-))

    Hobo Thank you

    RituAlthough I dont use them, have you tried whistling milk cookers ?

    HHGYes, Is till greatly enjoy making Kande Pohe. Will make some for you when you come visit ...

    manju YES! It was Vidya Bal ! And yes, we really messed up with the milk, but she didnt write about that....

    Lou It was a great example of too many cooks spoiling the broth...but yes, it was the thought that counted...

    BrajaThat's the fun part!

    Kavi 2 interviews in 60 years... I guess I will never make it in politics; but I may be better at marketing kandepohe. Buy a plate of Kande Pohe, Payasam free !:-)

  13. I loved your interviews and finding more about you BUT the best thing of all is I got to see your beautiful smiling face. Tell your daughter you dont need a makeover! I am really excited to put a face to your wise words. Um and enough of the word old in future!!!

    Your hostel days remind me of my college days, half a world away but still the same. Guess what? My daughter has moved to Melbourne and is sharing a flat with an Indian boy from your city. He has just gone back home for a wedding.

  14. What a delightful read ...
    Anyone who has stayed in hostel always has interesting tales to share .....

  15. really a very nice blog
    i will appreciate all of news of this blog
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