Till 2011, I could never associate myself to a south Indian cuisine! Done deal. No ifs, no buts to it. A long regiment of hogging Paneer masala or them Palak Paneer with Naans was a staple routine of eating out. Yeah, that now said, eating out was quite a routine too. Ate out almost everyday.
“He hates beans. No Avarakkai too. Totally no kootu (stew if I got the translation right) “, my mom would go on. Damn, now that I reflect, I was a fussy choosey eater. I had a longer list of things that I’d not even bother eating. Throwing in tantrums to blatant refusal to have dinner at home, I kinda did that all. I was not so young and completely lost in my ways of being stupid and remaining spoilt.
My mom and I had a wonderful little conversation this morning. The last few days have been a little mad hectic and I asked her to not pack lunch. Oh, yeah, detour, add that to the million ways I’ve been stupid list. For the longest while, I refused to carry food from home. Right from school 😉 Cool kids never packed lunch. HELL YEAH!
I’ve made mixed vegetable Upma da, my mom declared. Since you are flying off soon, would be nice if you can carry it today, she wrapped her love and care soaked lunch proposal. Sure ma, I obliged.
By the time I bailed out of home, I couldn’t help but overhear my mom beaming with pride over the mobile. Oh no no no.. he eats whatever I make. He’s become good now!!!!
I giggled and shook my head and waved my usual byes to my mom and made it to desk.
Its funny the simple tale of upma. From feeling that air of entitlement where I had no qualms about wasting food, even worse, REJECTING food, I had come a very very very long way in keeping my mouth shut and eating with relentless appreciation of the hard work that my mom puts into serving me food everyday!
If life was a movie, this would be the perfect time for a flash back. Khaki trousers, while shirt, a chubby me and a head load of hair, I’d probably open the scene with a punch dialogue that would be like’ AIYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA UPMA VA ‘ (what the hell, upma again? )
The plate would fly. Plates were not engineered keeping aerodynamics in mind. I’d prove them engineers wrong. Unidentified flying plate of upma would be spotted. Tempers would flare , doors would go slammed. What the hell, upma, I’d probably mutter and eventually walk out to hang out with my friends. That would be that.
Neither I offered an apology nor my mom would wait for one. She’d made a mental note to cook something as a backup besides upma.
2010 was my first stint onsite. Yeah. It built a lot of character indeed. From staying homeless to feeling shy to open the fridge in a stranger’s house, I quietly endured it all. Every morning I’d walk outside to face the Lagan river in Belfast. I’d lie through my teeth about the life in the lap of luxury that I was leading. My proud parents would hear my tales patiently and probably took comforts in knowing that they did they job well and that I had managed to acquire a career.
As things stabilized, I had a roof of my own. I’d go on to cook and it was a nightmarish experiment of sorts. In Belfast, the Idlies were scarce. Naans were plenty. A new found zeal for my south Indian identity crept on and I thought it was probably nice to have a south Indian meal from time to time.
Washing dishes, keeping the house clean, the daily chores of maintaining the house and the mighty cribbing and whining about the ways of life later, I soon came to the obvious untold realization that my mom was doing this for decades. She’s never openly accepted to be sick. (Touch wood). She’s never found herself skipping a routine and pushing us to eat food outside. To mom, motherhood was about serving food. She never differentiates between me and the entire wide world. She sees everybody as her ward and food is her way of showing love. So much love and yet so little expectations outta that . Her love puts all Hollywood/Bollywood/WOODS all over the world’s love stories to shame!
Somewhere the distance helped. I returned and decided to stop making a fuss about what was served. As it turns out, I am a huge fan of pepper rasam and Avarakkai!!!! Its funny how little things are appreciated the most when we lose access to them. I cant help but wonder about the million things that I’m taking for granted and denying them an acknowledgement in exchange for a few things that I so desperately pursue!
Moral of the story. While my mom packed Upma today for lunch, her proud smile and her constant desire to dish out food as long as I’m around is a testament to her love. Not wise to the ways of technology, not wise to the ways of this materialistic world, my mother has been a constant and a fantastic teacher of staying modest and humble. Does sting because I’m a lousy learner.
Upma sure tastes awesome today, everyday. 🙂