19th Feb 2020, Panjim, Goa.
Karan headed towards his office in a hurry as he was running late. Of course this was something rare, as being punctual was one of his virtues. Likewise his work culture was appreciated by the co workers, as he was a man of no excuse.
At 30, he had accomplished quite a lot. A head chef in Hotel Creative Appetite, Karan had discovered his flair for cooking at a young age. Not to mention, he had worked very hard and thus achieved tremendous success in this field. In fact many famous chefs appreciated his straight to the face opinions as well as the ruthless honesty he carried in his generous heart.
“Good morning sir.”
His assistant Martha greeted him with her radiant smile.
“What are today’s plans?”,
Karan asked her curiously.
“Quite a packed day sir. Twelve bakers are bringing along their cake samples for approval and later its your meeting with journalist Tom.”
“Alright then. I am heading towards the kitchen. Update me regarding the arrival of the bakers. And . . . Have a lovely morning Martha.”
Without delay, Karan disappeared towards the first love of his life, the kitchen, leaving a smile on her lips.
“So Karan, I am sure your questionnaire is ready for the bakers . . Give them some air to breathe alright.”, Robin Kapoor, the Hotel Manager asked Karan as he entered the kitchen area. His instruction was in the light of the fact that Karan was very selective regarding the cooks in the hotel.
Karan gave his thumbs up and said, “You will have the best in your team Robin.”
“As I have you,” pointing his index finger towards Karan, Robin smiled at his head chef and left.
Later, Karan met all the bakers one by one. While Karan was not easy to please, the eighth baker on the list did not accept a no by the same token.
Samiksha Sahni, a successful baker coupled with a knack to convince almost anyone about not only her recipes, but also anything that she believed was true. Known for making some of the best flavoured cakes in the town, she was adored by everyone she knew as well. Namely, her orange chocolate cakes were one of the favourites of customers. She was proud of becoming a successful baker at a mere age of 25 and was looking forward to the possible association with Hotel Creative Appetite.
Karan was seated
in his huge brown velvet chair when Samiksha entered in with her cake samples.
Just as his dark brown eyes met her light brown ones, she smiled at him without inhibition.
“Good morning Samiksha.”
Karan greeted her with his enigmatic charm.
“Indeed you can make my morning good, by approving my cakes sir.”
Samiksha’s answer was a variation to the usual ones of mere ‘Good morning’.
“Well, I loved your confidence. Lets see what is in your kitchen.”
Karan observed Samiksha as she unboxed her cake and methodically arranged it on the ceramic dish she had carried. Her inspection of the minute details had already impressed Karan. Finally she presented before him her first cake, an orange chocolate pastry. The second on the list was a pineapple truffle.
Karan smelled the pastry,
inhaling the fresh aroma of orange in the cake. Closing his eyes, he had a moment in doing so, when Samiksha interrupted his thoughts.
“I am sure the aroma has satisfied your senses of nose by now,” she asked with her radiant smile.
“Um . . its good. Let me see if it does the same to my tongue,” he replied with a challenging grin.
As he cut a slice of the pastry, Samiksha eyed him with an innocent desperation. She had the virtues of the charming grace of a woman coupled with an unpretentiousness, that of a child. The expressions on his face were increasing her curiousity.
“Nice, melts in mouth and . . what is that extra ingredient in it? There is something which makes it different from the regular ones.”
Samiksha’s face flashed a bright smile before her lips opened to answer.
“Can you guess?”
“Um . . Is it a tinge of some spice?”
Subsequently she was amused by his inability to guess the ingredient.
She denied at once.
“Well, I am curious to know.”
“Its a secret, actually.
I cannot disclose it. Um . . I hope you understand.”
“I do. But Ms. Samiksha, I feel the taste could be still improved. I mean . . . “
“That is fine sir. If you don’t mind, I would take your leave now. Furthermore, the other bakers are waiting outside. Maybe they stand a chance of getting approved.”
“Your cake is not yet disapproved Samiksha”, Karan was taken aback by her words.
“A cake is either out of this world or an ordinary one.”
“I meant, you can still work on its taste.”
“Sorry, but according to me it has all what it needs. Indeed a good dish should make you forget the world around you, making you crave for more. If my cake did not do this for you, further talks are of no use.”
“Satisfaction of the taste buds
varies from person to person Samiksha. You should certainly not get offended if someone gives their honest opinion.”
“I agree, but I feel my cake is really good and satisfies all the senses of who ever savours it.”
“I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“Absolutely not. Moreover, a stranger cannot hurt your feelings. Besides it takes a close bonding between two people, to hurt and to get hurt.”
Samiksha compiled her things without a trace of worry on face, and started to leave.
“Its ok Samiksha. Not every day is . . our day.”
“Can I ask you a question?”
“Of course, go on.”
“Did my cake make you forget everything else for a few moments?”
“Yes, but thinking about the market requirements, we need the exceptional and . . . “
“Sorry to interrupt, but I am getting late. I will take your leave sir. Have a wonderful day ahead.”
Before leaving, she turned around and spoke,
“What satisfies the soul, is irreplaceable.”
Samiksha’s words echoed in Karan Khanna’s head, making the brief encounter with her an unforgettable one.
Meanwhile he glanced at the left over pastry in her dish and smiled.
To be continued . . .
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