Features Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - 05:30
By Karthika Gopalakrishnan “I’m learning to become a cook, dude,” Sameer tells his friend on the phone, amidst the excited chatter and clatter of pans around him. “Not a cook, a chef!” his wife Pooja corrects him. An atmosphere of cheer and banter prevails at Foodology, a newly opened recreational cooking studio, in Adyar. For three couples, who are all friends from college, Saturday night takes on a twist as they spend it learning to cook a three-course meal together instead of hitting the club or going out to dinner. Pooja and Sameer assess their cooking Shree Periakaruppan, the owner of Foodology, terms it a new take on the concept of “Date Night”. Having recently returned from the US, Shree continues to work full time in the software industry. She set up Foodology because she wants other people to experience the chaos and excitement that she feels while cooking at home with her own family. “The concept of Date Night is common in the US. This is when couples take time out of their busy lives to spend an evening together. However, the concept was largely alien here. We decided to reinvent it by getting couples to get together, spend time cooking with each other, and sitting down to eat the meal that they just cooked. It’s a new experience for them and they make friends along the way,” she said. This is exactly what Foodology does with parents and children, corporate teams, and birthday parties as well. People get together, cook together, and eat the food that they’ve just cooked. In Sameer and Pooja’s case, the two other couples who are keeping them company are Gaurav and Shreya, and Vikram and Rachana. While paying some heed to what Bee Bee, the chef, has to tell them, most of their energies are spent laughing at each other’s jokes. The husbands in the group make pointed remarks about their wives’ cooking in return for dagger looks and gentle knife jabs. Gaurav and Shreya share a quiet moment Their menu for the night is Vietnamese Rolls, Mi Goreng, and Water Chestnuts soaked in coconut milk. It’s not just cooking that has caught the fancy of couples in the city but dancing and yoga are emerging as activities to unwind as well. Vinu John, Artistic Director, The Verb School of Dance, says that classes in salsa and jive—which are both partnering forms of dance—are the most popular. For every 10 people who walk in to learn dance, there are three couples, he says. “If they’re already a couple, they have a fight at home which carries over to the class. They end up having an argument but sort it out during the class. They go out and have dinner together once they’re done. We also have instances of either a husband or a wife coming for the class individually,” he said. People come for dance classes for various reasons. “A lot of people come because they want to be able to get up and dance when they go out. This could be at a wedding, a pub, a club, a Mehndi ceremony, or any other social setting. Others come because it acts as a stress buster. A lot of my clients are from the IT industry. They’re tired of sitting behind a computer all day and want a break at the end of it. A few more are fitness freaks, who find the regular workout too monotonous. They still want to keep fit so they come for dance classes. All of this is apart from the youngsters, who want to come and learn dance,” he said. While men in the city were more reserved about joining a dance class earlier, he says that they are more open to the idea now. “Earlier, the men would prefer to hang out at a bar because it was considered sissy to go to a dance class. This trend is changing now. A whole lot of them want to learn to dance. They want to look good on the floor. I think the media has contributed towards changing this mindset a lot,” Vinu added. Vikram and Rachna try their hand at cooking Mi Goreng as chef Bee Bee issues instructions Others like Swati Ahuja and her husband, Karthik, prefer to have some peace and quiet together. They attend yoga classes at 136.1 Yoga Studio early in the morning. Theirs is a DINK famiky—double income, no kids. Both Swati and Karthik work long hours and felt the need to do something to keep fit. “It is very important, indeed, to have an “unwind hour”. Gym or running is a good regime too but yoga adds an element of mental quiet and tranquility. I wanted to attend these classes at first and my husband followed,” Swati wrote, in an email response. She added that the experience of waking up early and getting ready to go to a class together ensured that they spent some quality time before going to the office.
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