There must be something in traditional women's chores that lures men to take them up professionally. Or else, how can you explain the exemplary success that Pandit Birju Maharaj, Shiamak Davar and Sanjeev Kapoor have achieved in professions like dance and cookery, which, as any match-maker will tell you, are a 'traditional woman's' claim to fame. Is it the thrill, fascination or a fat pay packet that is the calling card, I wonder! Seems like the battle of the sexes may finally be coming to an end with both men and women, willing to take on each other's roles. About time too, especially in the lives and times of the career-oriented Indian youth.
It could be because of interest. Men make better chefs because it's a man's job - maybe preparing bulk meals, handling the tandoor, are all very formidable tasks. It is not easy for women to put in such hard manual labour and late working hours. But I think since men are not under pressure to learn cooking as a daily task, it becomes almost a creative option for them. But in this age of DINK (Double Income No Kids) couples, men are increasingly making their presence felt in the kitchens too. In addition, the hi-tech kitchen appliances available at every nook and corner are only popularising the phenomenon. With ready-to-eat food items and easy-to-use appliances, cooking is hardly a difficult job anymore.
Men love kitchen gadgets which do half the work, like a good food processor. Fair enough. So do I. Most women don't. For some strange reason, women of a certain age love to toil and slave with blunt knives and old vessels to prove how hard they have been working. In some cases I agree. By the time you get the tomato slicer out, wash and clean it, you might as well have cut the thing with a knife. But today's cool men need their basic tools, in working order. Cool men also love a nice looking kitchen, not one that looks straight out of a Victorian novel (what the English used to call a `scullery') of a Siberian labour camp. They love quick recipes, easy shopping and like to see a smart table with smart accessories.
Enter a five-star kitchen and you find it bustling with men. Surf the channels for cookery shows and you find more of them, either hosting it, or handling the ladle themselves or simply adding a dash of their very male appeal. While cooking might be considered a woman's domain when it comes to cooking on the tele, all one finds is men. Celebrated chefs like Sanjeev Kapoor and Rakesh Sethi have wooed viewers with their stylish cooking skills. A potful of good-looking models and actors have hosted or co-hosted cookery shows. Hunks like Upen Patel, Sudhanshu Pandey and actor Aly Khan have all tried their hand at it. As it is women who watch these cookery shows it is obvious they would like to watch a good-looking guy. Besides, what's new about a woman working in the kitchen? It's kind of sweet to see a man chopping vegetables and handling the pans. And as far as professionalism is concerned men cook for money and women cook for love!