Today I received a massive “care package” from home, filled with some of the snacks I love, prepared by some of the people I love the most. I don’t think much has made me happier this semester.
I’ve been missing home food a lot. The mess food has become a little too repetitive and poor in quality for me to handle, so my desire to either eat South Indian food, or food that I like eating, like Italian, or Mexican, or even just fast food, has gone up by leaps and bounds. More than I ever thought it would.
That “care package” was something I devoured over 2 days. And each time I ate something contained within that brown carton, I remembered some part of my childhood. A pooja here, a small episode there.
A very vivid memory, for example, is my grandfather making his coconut burfi. It’s one of my favourite preparations of his. Over summer (Western summers), I used to be in India, for the monsoon season. Regular readers of this blog would now be used to my complaints about the rain, but my grandfather kept me entertained every single summer. Apart from the books I would read, and the TV I would watch, and all the holiday homework I would not do, my grandfather found projects to keep me occupied every summer day. Whether this was painting, or pencil sketching, or even stitching a tote bag, my grandfather taught me a lot over the summers.
Very unconsciously, I think another big thing that happened over summers was that my grandfather broke down the “gendered” stereotype of household chores. He was pretty active in the housework – and my grandmother and grandfather both cooked me meals I loved, and both helped set up things in the house. I quite enjoyed it.
They insisted, for example, that I drink milk before sleeping sometimes – because that’s what they were used to. I don’t think I’ll forget that.
Or the unreasonable fear of the dark I used to have in their house. My goodness. I had to literally run through the corridor to make it to their room before the lights went out, because I couldn’t see anything in the pitch dark black of their room.
Anyway, this post was about food. I remember 2 minute Maggi taking way too long to cook in their house, and how I used to sit atop the countertop and watch the heat waves waft over into the patio.
I remember my grandfather preparing coconut barfi on that countertop as well, and it sticking to the plate. I remember being so excited and surprised that a coconut could be grated, but more importantly that there was a machine that would do the activity.
If a singular piece of food can make my mind wander to so many different places, just imagine all the places I wanted to be when I ate all the food in the brown carton sent from home.
Yet I am in Gujarat.