One of the lesser known, but more important, uses of food is providing humans with analogies to describe experiences. While poetry, art, religion, or philosophy does provide a comprehensive enough platter to pick nuggets of explanations from, sometimes an edible alternative works better. Sometimes, the most twisted situations or the deepest emotions can be likened to the tingling of the palate.
Barely a month ago, work kept in office until very late. I’d reach home around 2 a.m., knowing that I’d have only four hours on my bed before I began the next day. I’d have a small meal reading a story from ‘The Unaccustomed Earth’ before falling asleep. Those were physically trying times. But there was something about those stories that soothed me, comforted me. They were quiet and engaging. While reading them, I’d lose sense of the time or space I was in. I’d defer any urgency of living for later. I’d be lost in the nourishing wholesomeness of the moment. Reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest work was like eating rice-daal with fingers. Simple, affectionate, complete – like homecoming.
At a coffee-break the other day, a friend and I watched Marol get wet in the rain. Mumbai, I think, actually gurgles with child-like exuberance whenever there’s a downpour. Before we got transfixed by heaving trees and steady spouts of raindrops, we were generally talking about how one chooses a life-partner. Given my dismal track-record on the subject matter, I usually offer a companionable silence. This time, however, I was especially asked to provide suggestions. I offered my thumb-rules, “Be honest to yourself”, “Follow your heart”, etc. etc. Then she asked me what if there was more than one worthy contender? In that case, “Wait”, I advised. “For time to make a decision.”
“Hmm”, she pondered. “Like, maybe you’re deciding between tea and coffee and suddenly, hot chocolate walks in.” Spot on, I thought.
That’s why food is important. Makes communication meaningful.