The 7 to 9 Chef-Chapter 1

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Its horrible how people are forced to do something. Like how that crazy alarm of mine pushes me off the bed every morning or how this crazy sister of mine is stuffing conflakes into my mouth right now.

“Cassie, why can’t you ever get ready on time? Your such a pest. Guess thats why Mama and Pa ran away to Chennai. Okay now grab your comb fast and come, we have to rush.” Vicky picks up her keys and I, my comb and gloss and we run to catch the lift.

So this is what my life officialy is. I get up, I rush to work( actually Vicky rushes me off and drops me), I come back home at 5 in the evening and then comes the best part of my day- I make dinner for Vicky, my bro, Jerry and myself. Then all of us eat and watch tv until we are sleepy. Yeah and then of course we doze off and my routine starts again. I always feel my best friends are my pots and pans. I have this connection with the utensils and grocery in the kitchen that only I can understand. Vicky and Jerry think I am mad most of the time.

Looks like I have to get down. So what I am facing now is the greatest enemy of my life- OPL PVT Ltd. OPL manufactures a lot of things like shampoo, soap, mineral water and what not. But I am not concerned with any of these. I work in the human resources department and I am only concerned about a harmonious relationship between the company and its employees. I sometimes feel I do a horrible job. I am here to protect the interests of the employees, which our department never does most of the time and instead does the opposite. For example if the research and development team bring to us that the company is not giving them a raise, then we organise a picnic for them on behalf of the company to pacify them. But truely speaking, I am happy with the pay and like everyone else here at this 5 storey office, I work for the money.

Seems like I have reached my destination- the 4th floor. As I swipe in my ID, I just pray everything goes fine today. Just then I hear a fruity, modulated voice, which sounds sort of familiar.

Oh my god! Did I just hear that right….I am sure I am hallucinating that voice or that name I am hearing right now for God’s sake. Already my day has been bad enough. I woke up late, I lost one of my earring in the car, hence I had to leave my hair down on this hot summer day and worst of all, I ran into my head of department while coming out of the lift and she gave me this horrible stinky look that said “I think I need to have a word with you about your timings Miss.”

Oh no I heard it right, it is him. I see Ananya running towards me.”Cassie, Cassie, guess what, that handsome chap standing there is Raymond Matthews, he is our new HR head.” Ananya was looking super excited and I was hyperventilating because the last time I had seen him, my hand had spoken to him instead of my mouth.

Lets just go back in time for while. I was eighteen, he was eighteen and it was our graduation ceremony at St.Stephen’s high school. He looked perfect in his black suit and red tie and I looked awful in my red chiffon saree with a silver border. After the ceremony, Ray walks upto to me and asks me out on a date and I, without a second thought had slapped him so hard that his cheeks looked redder than his tie. Now back to reality.

Avoiding his presence completely, I sneak into my cabinet and start checking my phone for messages. Yikes! My Mama has called me and if I don’t call her back, she will give me a hundred word lecture about how worried she was. As I wait for the line I can’t help but think about the possibilities of me running into Ray today.

“Hey sweetheart, how are you feeling?” As she spoke I could hear a crackling sound of something being fried in oil. Probably onions. Oh how much I miss her food. A year back Pa decided to shift his business from Bangalore to Chennai due to better opportunities there. Vicky, Jerry and I had to stay back because of our jobs and Jerry’s education. We moved into an apartment after renting out our own house because it was too big to be maintained by three busy people.

“I am fine Mama. Sounds like your making something yum for lunch.”

“Yes Cassie, I am making pulao. So anyways I called up to find out what have you decided. Do you want to move to Chennai or do want to get married.” Oh god she has to be kidding. The thing is Vicky is getting married in a month and Jerry will be moving to Vancouver for his post graduation and I will be left alone, hence my over-obsessive mother has set out on a mission to make things better for me from her ‘perspective’.

“Listen why don’t you meet up Rinky aunty’s son this weekend, Cass. He has just come down from London and seems pretty sweet.”

“No ways are you setting me up with someone Ma. Please keep the phone now. Bye.” I put down the phone on my desk with a thud just to realize that I had spoken a ‘little’ too loud in a fit of rage and had captured a few amazed gazes including……Yes you guessed right…….Ray’s.

There he comes walking towards me with a full-blown smile on his lips. I shift my feet, twirl my hair, meddle with my fingers and I am pretty sure I looked petrified too.

“Oh my god, look who we’ve got here- The Miss Ruth Cassandra Andrews. What a surprise! Its been nearly eight years I guess. So how are you doing?” He sounded absolutely calm and composed as he brushed through his lanky hair.

” Yeah, yeah, I’m great. Nice to meet you. I’ll catch up with you later k, I have work.” I sit down, avoiding his gaze, feeling really embarassed. He still continues though.”Okay so lets meet at the cafeteria for lunch. See you at 12:00 then Cass. Bye.”

I could feel Ananya’s inquisitive looks at us from her cabinet as he walks off.

“Cassie do you have an explanation for whatever that happened now?” Ananya pulls her chair really close to mine. Throughout my one minute flashback she sat listening to me like a two year old listening to “Hanzel and Gratel” for the first time.

To be continued…………………….

Author’s note: I know I had to include a recipe but I couln’t fit it in and I was also really excited, so I posted whatever was ready. But stay tuned for the amazing recipe that is on its way!…

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