The Rich Vegetarian

An Examined Life

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Tag: family (page 1 of 2)

For my Wise, Young, Beautiful Cousin who Loves the Woods

She was happy to leave New York (does that happen to anyone at all?)
she loves animals
and mountains
And the land her father grew up on
where she tramped days as a child
quiet and alone and tanned
tall trees laden with jack fruit and cashews and peppercorns and mangoes
dark homes with cool floors and pillars
she left the noise and dust of our home in Mumbai
went North
found a hillside town
(I thought it romantic)
she worked long and hard
made a name for herself, met friendly folks and ate homely dinners
met dynamic men, fiery and passionate
loved, lived, left

came back to Colorado, the hills beckoned again
friendliness, passion, compassion and desire
to learn and grow
and preserve and protect
to drink in the beauty
sip away the sunrise

and tramp all over the hills again

finally to gaze at the land her father built a home on.


Equal and Separate

One of my nieces is a high-school teacher. She was asked by a student, “Do you have a favorite student?” She responded, “Do you have a favorite teacher?” Her point was, yes, of course. She had some students who were absolute darlings, and then there were others that she wished would stay home more often. But as a teacher, she was clear that her personal feelings about the students were separate from how she treated and evaluated them.

Perhaps it is the same for a parent?

As an adult, I often reflect on my own childhood. It was perfect. Or was it? Well, what is perfect? Perfect does not exist. We are groomed to put a positive spin on every experience. Perhaps it is a technique to stave off pain, to prevent an emotional setback. So we layer the prettiest colors over all our experiences, refusing to see the blacks and dark greys underneath.

Who’d relish knowing that perhaps, they were the less favorite (or less favored) child?

I think each parent relates to each of their offspring in a different way. Maybe you share a passion with one of your children. Or maybe both of you have similar aspirations. And then it could be that you share nothing in common with the other child. Or maybe s/he is so similar to you that it becomes a bit of an irritant, a sad reminder of some sort. Perhaps you have a dream that one of them looks poised to fulfill. Perhaps there is a natural reserve in one of the relationships that simply cannot be overcome, despite your best intentions. Maybe one of the children is a natural attention magnet, and all of it flows in their direction.

After all, parents are human too.

I know it is common to evoke compassion at this point. To encourage adult children to forgive and forget, to focus on the present, to let go.

Perhaps these actions, if undertaken in a spirit of sincerity and empathy, serve their purpose. Perhaps they bring closure and peace. Or maybe they take a lot of effort and energy, and you end up empty-handed, right where you started.

I think truthfulness can help. By not pretending, not hiding ugly emotions behind positive affirmations, by not prettifying unpleasantness… we may hope to gain closure. It sometimes feels long and arduous, but it will ultimately heal hearts and minds, I think.

How does Love taste?


Love tastes of home; of sweet steel tumblers of filter coffee; of banana chips fried in coconut oil with smoke rising off the surface; of plantain-chickpea fritters, plump and sweet. Of a simple plate of bottle gourd dal and steaming rice with a smidgen of lime pickle and lots of ghee. Of turmeric milk with ginger, drunk on cold mornings, accompanied with much tears and tantrums; of golden mangoes brought to the perfect stage of ripeness in dark cool store rooms; of piles of sweet sticky jackfruit, patiently removed from giant gnarly fruit, by experienced hands and generous amounts of oil. Of creamy pink paayasam, rich and decadent, fit for a wedding; of tangy green mangoes, eaten with a mix of red chilli powder, salt and oil.

Love is in my mother’s hands, my father’s eyes and their voices, raised with exasperation, concern, joy. Love spices and flavors everything Mummy makes, rendering it perfect and memorable. Love is what makes her cook for me and all of us, each day, every day. Love is a young father cooking simple dishes for his two daughters as their mother went to visit her mother. Daddy is no expert cook but the simplest dishes took on such outstanding flavor under his loving hands.

Love tastes like the scents of Mom and Dad and G combined into a wholesome burst of sensations, that never leaves me no matter how old I am or where I live. Love is me and everything I hold dear.