As I was walking back home from office, I saw a trapdoor just at the end of a secluded alleyway. I had walked many times past this way but never noticed a trapdoor. I moved closer and noticed that the trapdoor was open and voices were drifting out. Curious, I decided to look inside. I started descending the stairs sideways, ready to run back up in case I find myself looking into a don’s lair or something.
When I reached the last stair though, the sight was completely different. I seemed to have walked into some kind of laboratory. There were burners and test tubes and flasks with steam issuing here and there. Men and women in white coats were working with clipboards and pens in their hands. This definitely was a laboratory I had walked into and I vaguely wondered if this was campus of a Science College.
Just as I was pondering over all this an elderly woman approached me. She too was wearing a lab coat over her formal shirt and trousers and the ID card clipped on her pocket told me that her name was Priya Gill and she was the Head Researcher.
“Hi”, she said.
“How did you find us?” she asked with a mild surprise on her face.
“Well, the trap door was open and I got curious.” I was feeling a little nervous now.
“Hmm. Looks like one of us is getting careless.” She looked around at her colleagues. Then she turned to me and said,”Have you heard the phrase curiosity killed the cat” I was startled and took a step back but she laughed with amusement. “I am just joking. Now that you are inside would you like to take a look around?”
I nodded my head to indicate my willingness. I was feeling both excited and nervous.
She immediately started walking and I followed in her wake. She showed me around the lab, introduced me to some of the scientists. I could barely understand all the work that was going on but it seemed interesting. We stopped in front of a door marked ‘Authorised Personnel Only’.
“On the other side of this door, we are working on something special. It’s almost ready and it will be a life-changer. Do you want to see it?” She said all this with a child-like enthusiasm. My interest was certainly piqued and I said of course.
She swiped her access card on the panel off the door and the door slid open. We entered the room. Walls of the room were lined with tables and there were about twenty box-like containers kept on the table. The containers were all glowing with a greenish light.
“What are these?” I asked.
“This is my pet project and it’s almost ready. You see, us working women have a lot of responsibilities on our shoulders. We are supposed to give our 100 per cent to home and work, both. And on top of that, we should be good cooks as well. Don’t you agree?”
I nodded yes.
“So, I have invented this little machine so that at least one responsibility can be lifted off our shoulders and society finds no way to complain or taunt us.” She took a deep breath and continued, “I present to you the Automatic Chef. This little wonder will cook whatever you want, whenever you want and takes only ten minutes to prepare ready to serve food. Just tell it what to cook and it will.”
The twinkle in her eyes as she spoke nearly had me convinced. “How is that even possible?” I asked incredulously.
“Why not? She asked back. “See,” she continued, “It’s like a mini robot. You just add the required ingredients to the container, close the lid. Select the dish from the panel and voila, food is ready. Trust me, I have been beta testing one at home and it is working efficiently. We have added 200 Indian recipes to the database and it cooks them like magic. Even Molly Weasley will find no fault in this machine.”
“Can I have one too?” I just had to have it. This was like a lifeline for ladies like me who were drowning in their offices and kitchens alike. “What is the cost for one container?”
“I will enroll you as a beta tester and give you one for free. Use it first and if you are satisfied, come back and we will talk about price. I am planning a market launch after two months so your inputs will be valuable.”
I was smiling from ear to ear as she handed me one packed container. I was dying to get home and try making some butter chicken. As I walked back home from this underground laboratory, I couldn’t help but wonder if the door had been left open for me on purpose.