THIS DAY, 20 YEARS AGO
Just like every other week, we meet in a previously agreed upon secluded corner, behind the school building. A furtive glance on either side confirms that we are alone, and hence, safe to conduct in stealth, the activity that has brought us both here. He stretches out his hand, claws roughened by years of combat, his face passive and emotionless, the face of an anti-establishment leader. I look into his eyes. They are cold, and blood-shot, like that of a hardened criminal, a reputation he wore like a badge. My hands are shaking as I bring out the carefully wrapped packet from my bag, and place it in his demanding hands. He tears opens the packet with the impatience of a child awaiting his birthday present. His eyes light up, and there is a hint of a chuckle, as he peels off the aluminium foil to discover his favourite parathas and pickles, the bribe my friend collects from me every week, to ensure that I am not bullied by the notorious gang of rowdies in school.
THIS DAY, 2 YEARS AGO
Heart racing, palms sweating. The golden envelope is opened. This is the moment of truth. Life reels in slow motion, as they announce your name to the world. LEONARDO. DI. CAPRIO!
Well, clearly I am no Leonardo, but I assure you, when the president of the picky eater’s club, my toddler Mr. I’ll-not-touch-anything-on-my-plate-but-will-eat-anything-I-will-find-on-the-floor, decided to finally wolf down the whole piece of bread smeared with mango jaggery pickle, I felt the exact intoxicating success and phenomenal relief, that must have swept over Leonardo, when he finally won the Oscar 22 years after his first Academy nomination.
THIS DAY, TODAY
Quiet hands are working hard in the kitchen that is driven by soul food and built on memories. Mum is pouring the last batch of the pickle order she has received from her friend. The pickles that have behind them, the history of decades, prepared with simplicity, elegance, authentic ingredients and packed with flavour. The pickles that are to parathas what Robin is to Batman. The pickles that will transform your leftovers into a finger-licking meal, when you spent the entire day on Netflix, avoiding adult responsibilities like cooking. The pickles that you can offer as a bribe, or as a gift. The pickles that can finally make your kid not to react at food like someone is trying to poison him.
The story of Pikkle Shikkle is the story of all of us. Trying to save ourselves from bullies. Trying to save our food from boredom. Trying to save simple ghar ka khaana from disappearing under the pressure of fancy fine dining. What started as home-made indulgent, delicious, comfort side-food for my mum, is also a dream in the making today. We really hope our quirky pickles and stories will soon find their way, into your hearts and homes.