The Rich Vegetarian

An Examined Life

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Tag: family (page 1 of 2)

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.

Five Memorable Meals

Memorable Meals

Memorable Meals

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post on my other blog about five of my most memorable meals ever. This is a food blog, so I think that post should have its place here. Here goes and here is the original post.

Since this is a meme, I would like to ask Lacey, Sucheta and Ganga to take it from here… 🙂 Don’t forget to link back to this post!

I am an avid reader of food blogs and The Traveler’s Lunchbox is one of my Favorites that I read regularly. Inspired by its creator Melissa, I thought of the meme below.

Five memorable meals ever eaten: It could be anything that makes the meal memorable – the food, the place, the place you were in your life when you ate, the company, the weather, the ambience – heck, the guy who served the food! So here’s my list.

1. Uttam Da Dhaba, Bombay – Some of my old friends will probably remember the infamous day when we trooped to Uttam for lunch. It was Holi, many years back. The day is engraved in my memory as one of craziness, laughter, and infinite understanding. What made it memorable was also the food. Those were the days of butter chicken and what amazing butter chicken it was! We also ate baingan bharta that day and honestly, I haven’t eaten a better version of the dish till date. Some of us ordered lassi but I didn’t. I’d go back to Uttam in a heartbeat and although butter chicken wouldn’t feature on our menu, the smoked baingan bharta and the huge fluffy nans would have us asking for more – that I’m sure about.

2. Cafe Berlin, Puerto Rico – The weather was fantastic, most of the tourists had left and we had one last afternoon before our flight back to Atlanta. I had heard of Cafe Berlin, a vegetarian restaurant in Old San Juan. We hardly expected to find it but there it was, bang en route to the airport. The food was real basic: pita chips and hummus, eggplant parmesan (maybe). I think we’d ordered a fresh fruit drink as well. On the wall was a motif of a female face with long black hair. The food was superb.

3. J & J’s housewarming lunch – Since we couldn’t cook in the new home (they hadn’t closed yet), we went to Global Mall for lunch. The place is anything but global. It is a mall with stores selling Indian clothes, music and Bollywood film DVDs, restaurants, SAT coaching centers, dance schools, a couple of temples, etc. There were so many of us and so we joined a few tables to sit together. And the food kept coming. South Indian coffee, pani puri, Haandvo, masala chai, spicy Indian Chinese dishes, vegetable pizza, more chaat, masala dosa, and more. I don’t know what it was about the food that day – every thing we ordered was delicious. Probably the people, the day, the event…

4. Kandahar, Cairo – There were probably just a couple of Indian restaurants in Cairo in 2002-2003 and this was one of them. It was situated in the suburb of Mohandiseen which, if I remember right, actually means ‘engineer’ in Arabic. Honestly, there was nothing memorable about the food. Filo dough cannot be used to make samosas, as we realized sadly on our first visit. One time we were dining, a group of men walked in. One of them was an Indian and he was dressed in the way one imagines a money lender dresses like. Or so I think, based on my knowledge from Hindi films. The guy was wearing gold earrings, an old-fashioned silk kurta, a topi! In 2002, who dresses like that? Even funnier was the hostess. An Egyptian, she wore a saree in the most awkward way possible. I think she just wound it around her waist (zero pleats) and threw the rest of it over her shoulder. I always marvelled at the way she walked and wondered if it’d all unravel…

5. Cafe Mocambo, Bombay – When Pinch and I were in college, we frequented Churchgate ever so often. Buying books off the pavement, browsing through music tapes (Yeah, I am old – those were the days of audio tapes!), watching Hollywood films, eating awesome food. We often went to Mocambo, an old Irani eatery that served fantastic chicken dhansak. So we sat and ate and ate and ate. The cafe was frequented by old Parsi gentlemen and they would sit around on the simple tables, sipping tea and reading newspapers as the busy office-going crowd surged by. Reminds me of ‘Sit’ by Vikram Seth – Geckos, sunshine, and Pinch sitting across from me.