Thursday, September 18, 2008

How Come My Face Remained Intact

I remember it was a Saturday during the Gulf war ‘cos my brother and I were discussing over breakfast how permitting the US warplanes to refuel in India amounted to a shift in India’s Foreign Policy and might tempt Saddam Hussein to direct his Scud missiles towards India. After breakfast, my brother retired to the guest room which was a level lower than rest of the apartment, and I went into the kitchen to cook for the week.

The maid came in and went straightaway to the narrow space in the far end of the kitchen to do the dishes while I put the pressure pan on the stove with moong dal in it. Then I thought I’ll watch the morning movie for a few minutes and settled down in the reclining chair. I must have remained there for fifteen to twenty minutes when it suddenly struck me that the pressure pan hadn’t whistled. So I got up quickly and went into the kitchen. What I saw then was one of the strangest sights I’d ever seen.

The pressure pan was shaking like a space rocket about to take off. And then, it really did take off!! It raised itself up slowly from the gas stove, went up a couple of feet ever so slowly and then took a right turn. By now it was out of the kitchen platform.

If I had any sense in my head, I’d have run for my life, for I’ve always been told that a pressure cooker or pan which indulges in strange behaviour is the most dangerous thing on earth. But this strange inexplicable phenomenon fascinated me and I went forward towards it, spell bound by the pan suspended in the air and shaking and moving as though it had a life of its own. And my maid – strange woman that she is – was blissfully unaware of the phenomenal event that was happening next to her. She kept at the dishes, singing the latest Malayalam hit song out of tune.

And then it happened. The weight of the pressure cooker came off the nozzle like a bullet and whizzed past my head (it missed my head by the skin of the teeth), crashed into the wall, bringing down a huge chunk of the plaster off the wall. The minute the weight left the pressure pan, the dal in the pan (thoroughly cooked) started spurting out at the speed of light, at my face and head through the nozzle; and the pan crashed to the floor with a deafening explosive sound. The pressure pan then started spinning like a top at full speed on the floor while I looked down at it with fascination, and continued to be sprayed with the yellow cooked dal.

The maid, in the meanwhile, had run to the end of the kitchen and clung to the wall, her song turning into a wail. The pressure pan rotating at high speed on the ground, soon began to slow down while, like an idiot totally devoid of common sense, I stood over it, fascinated - and continued to be sprayed with dal coming out of its nozzle. Hearing a sound, I turned my head to the entrance of the kitchen and saw my brother standing there, eyes popping out of his face (like Jim Carey’s in Mask. 0ops! forgive the anachronism) and his jaw dropping incredibly low ( like Carey’s again but without its manipulative power). He had rushed to the kitchen to grab me and run out of the house. He thought Saddam’s scud missile had targeted Kochin! That was when he saw me with the yellow stuff plastered on my face and head, and simply couldn’t make out what had happened.

Soon the neighbours from the ground floor and the adjacent houses started shouting out to us from the compound, wanting to know what had happened. None of them had the courage to come up to find out for themselves. They later told us that they thought that the gas cylinder had exploded and were looking out for fire and smoke and panicky screams.

Ok. Once I came to my senses, I found my own solution to the mystery of the pressure pan taking off as though it had a will of its own. I knew enough physics to know that the pressure trapped in the pan and which was trying to escape weighed more than the pan itself. They say this can happen when you cook dal in a pressure pan.

But how come my face did not have burn injuries? With all that cooked liquid dal spraying at my face straight from the pan at boiling point? Unless someone gives me an explanation, I shall continue to believe that it had everything to do with this habit of mine for years, of waking up in the morning with the words: “God, protect my near and dear ones and me from all dangers, diseases and evil”


  1. I have heard the flying pan story a few times. And every one of the story-tellers escaped it narrowly. So my theory is as long as pressure cookers decide its time to do some space-roaming and if possible, some human-hitting, the humans can bravely be fascinated cause they'd by some weird talent, position themselves to let it go past them.

  2. one roller coaster the same time you have scared me enough to make me skip cooking dal for atleast a couple of weeks!!;-P

    I have often had a fair share of oil splattering on my hands while frying fish..but that still is not as horrible as a pressure cooker blow out!!

    Anyways i would say you are probably one of the first who had a wonderful moong dal facial!!

  3. @ all
    hey, none of u told me how my face remained intact. any theories?

  4. @ mathew
    this usually happens with pressure pan, not pressure cooker - so go ahead and cook dal, the most nutritious substitute for meat

  5. Your question actually in essence a greater question...

    Just out of context..
    Assuming all of us believe in God and his powers.. how many of us believe if someone did say that he was many of the believer would brand the person as a hoax and how many of us would truly believe in it..

    read this:

    I must say most of the people would call it a hoax and I just wonder if God is capable of doing it why are we not believing it? Doesnt it ring the question of how effective our faith is?

    I believe that God works wonders not just at the moment you escaped not getting burn injuries...but everyday of your life...everyday you are not involved in an accident or injuring yourself..and everday when you are faced with difficulties thats serves as a reminder of how you are still not in the worst condition you could potentially fall face...

    sorry for going away from the topic....

  6. but why substitute meat ? :-P
    1) Maybe the shock of the situation raised your psychic energy.. They say when confronted with extremely challenging situations people rise above their normal selves and do extraordinary things

    The fascination you are describing might have been a highly psychic state in which you had tremendous power and strength that the boiling moong dal could not scar you (like nagavalli in manichithrathaazhu :-D .. sorry for the comparison :-P)

    2) Maybe the latent heat of boiling moong dal isn't that high..

    3) Maybe with the sudden release of pressure, the boiling moong dal cooled down quickly .. at least to an extent which was not harmful for the human skin..

    Some other possible explanations:
    4) Maybe this was a dream which appeared so real.,..that over the years you have come to think of it as a real event :-D

    5) The moong dal part was "just for horrors" ??? :-D

  7. @ mathew
    for want of a credible scientific explanation,i'd go by what u say - till someone offers a proper explanation. We always give the last chance to God:-)

    accusing me of cooking up the moong dal story?:-) I'm not- it's a legend in our family - - mt brother saw to it that the remotest of our relatives came to know of it.
    Ur 3rd explanation - 'Maybe with the sudden release of pressure, the boiling moong dal cooled down quickly ..' was offered by a half baked scietists- i'm inclined to believe it - only all such explanations come with a 'mebbe'.u see i've been wanting to find out for the past 17 odd yrs:-)
    by the way, the latent heat of boiling moong dal is high enuf to burn ur skin - try pouring a spoonful of boiling moong dal into ur palm the next time u cook it :-)

  8. ha ha.. thanks ..but no :-D
    I'd rather learn from your experience..:-)

    Hey I did believe the story... you see explanations 4 & 5 were offered cos I didn't really have any explanation..:-)

    I echo Mathew's sentiments at this point..

    " if God is capable of doing it why are we not believing it?"

    You are right..we always come to God last..I think most people in this world are agnostics.. When something incredible happens, we first seek logical/scientific explanations..

    When everything fails we attribute it to God..
    Paavam paavam daivam..
    Pulikku nammale kondu maduthu kaanum..:-(

    Sometimes I wonder..why does he have to stick with the policy of "believing without seeing"..

    Just like he appeared in front of the disciples (thomas)..can't he appear in front of us for once..
    All the agnostics would immediately move to the "believers" category..

    Thomas got a chance ... will we?

    Or is it because we are so materialistically inclined that we pretend we are not seeing him?

    Oops, sorry for taking this comments section in a different direction..

    Nice moong dal facial story anyways :-D

  9. @layman
    "if God is capable of doing it why are we not believing it?"

    You are right..we always come to God last..I think most people in this world are agnostics.. When something incredible happens, we first seek logical/scientific explanations.."

    Just for clarification my interpretation is not pro-agnostic..What I mean is God is not a "one day blow you away magician"....Infact it is his blessing that we are having intelligence to ponder over scientific explanations for everything....And God doesnt need to prove his powers by resurrecting Daniel Ekechukwu and even if he wanted he would have done that it in a much more impressive way!! The fault lies in our basic assumption that we could analyse God in our platform and within the purview of our intelligence..The beauty of faith is not "seeing is believing"..It goes beyond that!!

    I was just quoting an example...Probably there are 1000's of such incidents the authenticity of which is debatable..

  10. @mathew.. I wasn't being pro-agnostic either.. Just stated the fact that most of us try to understand God "within the purview of our intelligence" as you put it..

    The beauty of faith is not "seeing is believing"..It goes beyond that!!

    Really liked that..

    About Daniel Ekechukwu:
    It may well be a case of
    "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ"
    2 Corinthians 11:13

  11. I think the explanation that the moong dal cooled down enough before it hit your skin is quite reasonable. You did say you were standing (not squatting) near the cooker, so the time taken for the steam and moong dal to spray out and reach your face may indeed have cooled it down just enough. So what you got was in essence a slightly heavier version of the 'steam bath' that they do when giving facials, plus the mask effect.
    When my son was a toddler, he had a steam burn at close range (few cms) from a rice cooker that he was able to reach- a nasty 2nd degree burn resulted. Luckily, he healed very quickly, with no marks.

  12. You know, that's why I never bought a pressure pan. :-)

  13. @sujatha
    i too subscribe to the same theory. but i wish someone would authoritatively state that that IS the reason.
    clever u:-)

  14. From where I stand the simplest explanation is GOD fullstop
    Ur post was detailed where the reader cd visualise everything in the mind.

    p.s - forgot to add...Hilarious too if u ignore the danger side to it

  15. @ deepak
    ding dong?
    i seem to be terribly out of touch. kindly update me.

  16. just a calling bell :-)
    for your next post to appear..

  17. ma,even after 6 years of cooking i drop a prayer(almost automatically) before i put the cooker on...and call on all my guardian angels !now u know why i ONLY eat meat!!!


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