“The secret ingredient is always love”

Does everything have to be expressed in words ? There are many ways to express one’s anger, happiness, excitement, fear, grief or sorrow. As for love, India has its very traditional way, which is- Food 🙂

Yesterday was one of the successful days for me as a chef. Entering the kitchen with a vision of cooking, i hoped and prayed that the food would be delicious enough to be relished. Taking into consideration, the likes and dislikes of my father, who has a fairly traditional palate, on my list, i had Pav Bhaji. Originated in Mumbai, this delicacy is a mixture of numerous veggies with Indian spices to be eaten with bread.

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Pav Bhaji

To my delight, the two hours of hard work resulted into victory when i saw everybody fill their stomachs with pleasure. Dad stated in the end, “You must continue this good work in the kitchen, my child. I’d be glad to taste such lovely food daily.  😉 ” As usual i had my answer ready, ” Yes Thank you. But you know, i cant keep cooking all day, everyday. It takes two hours to just prepare one meal.”

He laughed and shared a 15 year old experience back at a dinner table in France. He was sitting with his Indian friends and their french host families in Paris. Dinner started at 7pm with some wine and cheese. Then came the soups and starters, followed by the main course with a desert at the end. The order of the courses of the meal seemed normal, but i was stunned when i heard that they ended at 12 midnight. They spoke on various topics as also on food.

Indians take 3 hours to prepare and 3 minutes to eat. We take 3 minutes to prepare and 3 hours to eat!

Those were the words of my dad’s host, as they laughed about this difference in their cultures. In agreement to this statement, i continued to tell dad, how i would be fine making simple Italian or Chinese cuisines (with an Indian touch to suit his taste). There have been a couple of incidents, when other cuisines were made but didn’t gain much appreciation from him, unless they were a little indianised. 

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Indianised coriander pasta with mushroom

Dad considered my points and concluded by saying, he has traveled enough to taste a lot of cuisines, of which, some became his favorite and others were good to fill the stomach. None the less, he would always want some ‘spice’ in life!

I got my answer. I have the freedom to make whatever i like. But the most important and secret ingredient would be that of love, love for my dad which would make me add the required spices he needs, to make it best suitable for him.

Diverse yet similar

Last year, around this time, i was enjoying the pleasant summer in Berlin. It was my second visit to the city which is termed ‘Multikulti’, for it is ‘home’ to many young students and other people from various countries all over the globe. One can never get bored in that lively city which offers so many restaurants of diverse cuisines and a lot of cultural events happening around.

My very loving and motherly host was home one afternoon and we decided to spend some time with each other. She is fond of pictures and said lets capture some memories in the camera! We took a few pictures together and then she was keen on clicking me. As we entered the pretty balcony, i was delighted to see beautiful tiny plants and colorful flowers in the cozy place.

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My hosts balcony.

She then told me how she takes care of the greens and lets them bloom with joy.! I was glad as we took more pictures in that background with flying bubbles and the summer joy. Later that evening i kept an eye on almost every building , just to discover that each one had plants or blossoms adorning their glasses.

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Blowing bubbles in the pleasant Summer!

During those days, i was in constant contact with an Indian friend who was living in a small village in Sachsen. I was excited to tell him about this new observation  about plants. He said, ” Shreya, Women are after all women”. My ears got sharper as he continued -” I’ve seen old German ladies here, who believe that a female is an ideal woman, if she knows how to keep the plants in her balcony healthy and beautiful. If she can nurture, love and take care of the mute lives in her balcony, she can surely do that and much more for her family. The healthy beautiful plants in the balcony are thus a symbol of the responsible and loving lady of the family.”

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Old establishments in Friedenau where plants in balconies are usual.

We ended for the day on a beautiful note. On returning back to India, i shared my friend’s words with my grandma. To my wonder, she laughed and agreed! She said, “Its the same here, my child. We, old Indian ladies believe that too. Now you know why i am so bothered about my plants all the time! I’m glad that it’s the same in Germany too. I somehow feel a bond between myself and your host now.”

It amazes me many times, how diverse yet similar cultures can be! Two kinds of women who have never met nor spoken, have the same belief and the same reason to it. As for my bad pre-observation, i’d say- i should have known my culture first. It is a pity that you get to know your things after getting to know those of the others first.

The grass is always green on the other side.!

May be we should start observing and nurturing our gardens first, to later appreciate others’ too and share the common thoughts of bonding.

 

Lost or found?

Wanderlust – a German word, which implies the desire to travel! Originating from the combination of the two words wandern (hiking ) and Lust (desire), one fairly uses it today to also describe the enjoyment of strolling, roaming about or just wandering. This internationally popular English ‘loanword’ surely has much more than just meanings.

On a relaxed morning you wake up with the first ray of the sun, and feel happy with the mere thought of not working . You go into the balcony to feel the cool breeze embrace you. Taking a deep breath, you experience the brightness with closed eyes. THAT is exactly when your heart says- lets go for a stroll.!

Hurriedly you get ready and finally step out. The fine mist, the sparkling dew, dead leaves to walk onto..You take each step with million thoughts and as you proceed, they gradually seep. They seep into your shoes and clear your mind and give you the bliss you otherwise, wouldn’t find.

Couple of roads, you can just walk on, without bothering -where would they lead. As in the end you just know- No matter which one i choose, i will still find my destination. The destination where you lose track, but find YOURSELF! 🙂

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This was exactly what happened to me at Le Meridien, Mahabaleshwar in September 2016. Wanderlust is a deep Feeling and a beautiful expression, which isn’t found in all languages. Sometimes you just need a break and need to let yourself loose. No matter what you face in your routine, you do have the right to find your being! In getting to know the world, do not miss out on yourself.! Wanderlust will help 🙂

Would he be homesick?

“TRAVELLING. It leaves you speechless and then turns you into a Storyteller”

– Ibn Battuta. 

Rightly written by the Moroccan traveler, as he visited almost 40 (present day) countries after his pilgrimage in 1325, only to return back home after 24 years. His craze for travelling must have surely driven him crazy and given the courage to not be-homesick!

Here is a man, who caught my sight as i was travelling in Italy with my colleagues. The incident dates back to August 2016 when we were to stay in Venice for 3 days and explore its beauty. The first two days were enough to cherish the city of Gondolas. Day three was for the neighboring islands called Murano and Burano,  Murano-being famous for its glass artifacts.

I thought Burano wouldn’t have much to offer and hence wanted to just skip it, until one of the colleagues just forced all of us there. Upon landing onto this island, i saw bright colored houses and small restaurants all over. Wooden bridges and swans swimming elegantly in the waters. Every entrance had fragrant flowers. There were few people, but simple and happy. I watched as they were busy chatting and laughing with one another. The atmosphere was pleasant and I was amazed as every street led me satisfaction, my inner satisfaction.

I finally stopped to witness the actions of this man. He opened the door, looked around, felt happy, smiled at two women and went back inside. After a few seconds he was back with a watering can and watered the plants as he spoke to them, and went back. The third time he returned with something bound in his fist and peeped into the water. Then he looked far away in the sun, in search of someone. In no time there was a smile on his face as the swans came by him, only to be fed by him.!

Beauty, happiness and satisfaction were at their peak. I was left speechless there for long until it was finally time to return to Venice. What i really wondered about was- would this man really be happy travelling?  Or just this way- taking care of things around? That day i learnt how relative and individually defined, happiness can be! 🙂 DSC02815 (2)