02 December, 2020

Wafts Of A Dish Called Life

Food is expression in India—of warmth, respect, belonging. Who needs a curry standard?

Wafts Of A Dish Called Life
Laddoos being stuffed into the guffawing mouths of victorious politicians on prime-time TV are probably the most unlovely manifestation of an otherwise delightful national trait. Food is how we Indians express ourselves—how we show warmth, affection, respect, celebration, greeting....

One of my enduring memories is being served tea during the great Kutch famine in the '70s, in remote desert villages where even the water was a brackish yellow, measured in droplets. I knew each grain of sugar, each tea leaf, was part of a treasured, fast-dwindling store. Drinking the brew was both pleasure and pain. Sharing out my cup in tiny saucerfuls; each last drop was savoured and noisily drained—the precious nectar bonding us in fellowship.

In a nation where caste is still a divider, and hugs and kisses not a part of cultural conditioning, food—quantities of it, at any time of the day or night—is a mandatory ritual. Falling short either in offering food or accepting it is a social disaster. Even the stone images of our gods are fed...


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