And speaking of topical feminist issues, will someone please explain to me why we, as a society, continue to indulge in the intensely masochistic activity of making chappatis? I mean seriously, if you took all the time that is spent in the average North Indian household making these damn things and put it all together back to back, you'd get a workforce the size of Taiwan. Why can't we mass produce the stuff? Or switch to eating bread? Or cake? 
Thus far, my own experience with 'making' chappatis has usually consisted of cutting open a packet from the local Patel store and popping it into the microwave - so I can't say I'd ever spent time thinking about the mystical process by which chappatis actually get made. Then yesterday, driven by some atavistic homemaking impulse, I decided it was time I learnt how to make chappatis from first principles. How hard could it be? Surely making something as ubiquitous as chappatis would be a roti-walk compared to, say, doing complicated long-division sums.
Little did I know. It turns out that making chappatis is an intricate, multi-stage process that resembles nothing so much as one of those video games where, just as you think you've kicked some serious alien butt, you find yourself bumped up to the next level where the action is quicker, the leaps more difficult and the opposition more deadly. And at the end of all this will you at least get to rescue a princess or be declared champion star-fighter? No. All you'll get, if everything goes to plan, is a fairly boring, flat mildly charred piece of cooked wheat. And then you'll have to start the whole thing all over again to get another one.
The process starts, it seems , with making the dough. This involves taking exactly one andaaz se measure  of flour (aka atta) and one andaaz se measure of water and then kneading the mixture till it acquires the consistency of playdough (not to be confused with the consistency of dog puke which is what you get if, like me, you mix one andaaz se measure of flour with one and a half andaaz se measure of water). This sounds easy (well, kind of) but it isn't. It turns out that the actual kneading, far from being a fun activity for children under 5 is actual a feat of arms of Birbal-esque proportions, requiring levels of strength and stamina that the hands of sensitive poet-types like me simply do not possess. I was on my third rest break and had just about managed to get the flour-water mixture to resemble some sort of lumpy custard, when my mother took over and finished the job for me.
Right then, on to the actual chappati making. No strength required here - just skill and dexterity. The kind of stuff I'm good at. The first step is to take a lump of dough and, dabbing it with powdered flour, roll it into a thin, flat circle. Piece of cake, or well, dough. But wait, you want me to do this with what is, at best, a glorified rod? I try to explain to my mother why, based on simple Euclidean logic, a lump of putty like substance rolled in one direction cannot acquire a circular shape. She doesn't agree. I then proceed to prove her wrong empirically.
If the desired shape for this chappati had been a square I could have made it in a heartbeat. If it had been an oval I would have managed. If chappatis were supposed to be shaped like Spain, or Poland, or Italy or the erstwhile GDR I would have been an expert roti-maker. But this circle business was beyond me. How the hell do you get an even diameter on these things? No matter which direction I rolled in, some other radius would be left too short and I would have to roll along that line, and then that would get too long and I would have to roll in a third direction, and so on.
Plus it turns out that after a while the powdered flour you've applied to the lump wears off and you have to apply more flour to keep the dough from sticking. My mother's advice was - "when you feel the dough starting to stick, stop and put more flour". The trouble is, if you're a novice, the first time you realise that the dough is sticking is when a) you try to pry it off the surface you were rolling on and find it can't be done without a chisel and / or a blowtorch or b) a large strip of dough comes clean off on your roller. By the time I managed to get one flat, ready to cook piece of dough (not quite round, but at least respectably elliptical) I'd managed to get flour on my fingers, arms, clothes, hair, every handle in the kitchen, the phone, the newspaper, the car keys and even a little spot on the ceiling. And that doesn't include the 20% of dough that had to be thrown away because I'd rolled it beyond redemption.
The next stage consists of putting this thin circle of dough on a tavaa and then cooking it. This is actually fairly simple, except that a) flipping the damn chappati with your fingers (to make sure it cooks on both sides) is advisable only if you're an experienced chappati maker (or a Jedi knight) and can do this without actually touching the tavaa. Typing a long post with badly singed finger-tips is NOT fun. b) If the chappati doesn't seem to be cooking properly and remains damp it's because you didn't roll it thin enough in stage 1 above. Isn't it a good thing you found this out now instead of when you were actually rolling the damn thing because if you'd known this earlier you would have got disheartened? Isn't it a good thing that your mother is a considerate, encouraging person and didn't tell you this before? Don't worry about it. Just make sure that the next chappati you roll is exactly 3.25 microns thick and you'll be fine. c) trying to do a cryptic crossword while you've got the chappati on the tavaa is a bad idea - before you know it you've got a house full of smoke and you're making very wide, very flat atta doughnuts.
Finally, you're ready to add the finishing touch to your chappati. This consists of roasting it by tossing it onto an open flame. Again, sounds simple enough. The trouble is, if you leave it on the flame too long it catches fire and continues to burn even after you lift it off the flame. So you're left holding this burning piece of flatbread, wondering whether you should try to save its life yourself by throwing a blanket over it and snuffing out the flames, or you should just wait for the fire engines to arrive (NOTE: Waving it up and down wildly the way you would with a marshmallow DOES NOT work. Not unless your original intention was to set fire to the wall calendar).
So, to summarise. I set out to make six chappatis. The first one got stuck to the roller and had to be washed off with detergent. The second one disintegrated mid-air while I was trying to transfer it to the tavaa. The third one made it to the tavaa but was too thick. The fourth one got burnt on the tavaa itself. The fifth one caught fire and turned to cinders.
The sixth one, however, turned out perfectly. It was round. It cooked. It swelled on the flame like a good chappati should. Now I was (literally) cooking. My heart singing with confidence, I gave it one last flourish on the flame. The chappati landed on the floor.
I actually think subzi tastes so much better with toast, don't you?
 Yes, yes, or rice.
 I don't actually know how to make chappatis yet, so I'm probably getting this all wrong.
 The andaaz se system, known to all Indian housewives, is, of course, the true measurement system used in India. Efforts by the Indian Government to replace it with the metric system have failed miserably, the chief reason for which is the intricate complexities of the metric system, compared to the simplicity of the single unit that the andaaz se system uses for everything.