Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What is home made?

What is Home made Never been to me.

I could not resist going out for lunch to Madras Pavilion, a South Indian Vegetarian Restaurant in Richardson, Texas. I was the first one and until I finished my food leisurely, I was the only one in the Restaurant.

While eating, I journeyed through a whole lot of memories and thought. The most important discovery was the phrase “Home Made”; it really had not gotten into me all these years. I almost wanted to scream “eureka” when I realized what it was.

That special smell of Uddin Vada with Sambar was making me feel like I am back in my cradle, indeed that was the food I grew up eating. I remembered complaining to my Dad that my sister ate eight of them leaving me four, and the younger ones had one each. My Mom explained to me that she ate only two, but I insisted eight. Idli Sambar was followed by Masala Dosa; there was Lemon rice, Pongal, lemon pickles and ending it with the Kesari baath. Man I was in my element. It felt like home, it was like the only food I wanted to eat. The expression “home made” made a whole lot of sense to me.

A month ago, I had visited with my fatherly friend Mr. Maini; he is Punjabi and was enjoying the ‘phulke’ – chapati or tortillas, whereas I was focused on the varieties of Rice dishes. He asked “beta, you are eating a lot of rice” and I looked at him, he was eating a lot of “wheat”. What makes one want to eat a particular food and relish it? It is amazing how mothers condition our taste buds, whatever is conditioned becomes the “home” to our buds.

I consider my taste buds to be pluralistic – that is everything is made for us to experience, the larger the universe, the greater you become a part of that horizon. But, no matter how much I have enjoyed every imaginable food, my home food is what my mother and my sister had conditioned me to enjoy. It may not meet the calories and other nutritional elements, but that is the food that would make the bud feel at home.

Thinking about conditioning the bud, my mind drifted to my son Jeff and daughter Jazzie who live a few miles from Madras Pavilion and probably in their classes, but then he was conditioned to enjoy the North Indian food and my daughter was into tacos and burritos. Would they relish Uddin Vada? They may eat to give me the company, but on their own, the may not. The excitement of eating Uddin Vada with Rasam will not be there for them. So, all alone, I have to make the pilgrimage to eat Uddin Vada, Masala Dosa and Idli Sambar.

Deep down, each one of us is an Island within, no matter how close one can get, we still have to live with our own fears, Uddin Vada’s, concerns, Joys (Sukh) and Sorrows (Dukh). Good relationships do lighten the apprehensions and enhance the joys, but never zero them. Being ourselves in our own element is being home. If you don’t have a Uddin Vada in your life, try meditation and enjoy the pleasant moments of your life.

Every so often I go to lunch by myself and enjoy that journey. You shouldn’t miss an opportunity like this. I just could not resist humming Charlene’s good old song “Never been to me”. It is beautiful.

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