Have you ever tasted a food and it just immediately whisks you away to a long forgotten memory. I am going to share an anecdote from today to explain this.
Today was my first outing of 2023, which was not to a hospital or for a doctors appointment. Yeah !! Yeah !!I am whining!! I have tried to embrace the chaotic side of life,without necessarily putting a positive spin on it. Fracturing my toe just before Christmas was not perfect, and in fact is annoying. I was listening to a Philosophy podcast yesterday, which reminded me nothing is good or bad, it just is. So yes I am whining, but it is not necessarily bad, and it is not good either. So where am I going with this ? Not entirely sure. I was definitely looking forward to going out of the house.
The outing was for grocery shopping, nothing exciting. The groceries were specific Indian Groceries, so required the visit to an Indian store.And along with the shopping we decided we could have a pit stop over at Saravana Bhavan for lunch. Saravana Bhavan is an Indian food chain which specialises in South Indian food. I have visited it many times in India while growing up. It s sort of an ritual for us at London, whenever we go for Indian grocery shopping,we stop over at Indian restaurant for a bite.
A wonderful friend meanwhile called to catch up. Having been unable to move around for a while and most interactions being over phone, the idea of meeting her in person sounded an exciting proposition. I invited her to join me for some exciting grocery shopping, so we could have a tête-à-tête while shopping. Walking around the aisles of the shop , while searching Tur Daal, tamarind or Pudina, and sharing some interesting insights over our daily life, made the mundane less boring. So off we drove for some grocery shopping.
On the journey to grocery store I remembered this Icecream parlour which I have been meaning to go to for a while. I would hear the advertisement of the place on the radio ever so often , 📻 while listening to the Bollywood songs. The unique flavour being mentioned often would pique my interest.
After tucking in the meal, and having chatted about our compelling work lives, and exchanging our views on the shows we were watching on Netflix. We walked in to this icecream parlour, determined to The place looked like your regular icecream parlour with variety of ice creams and colourful cubicles to sit and enjoy the treat. Yet for us the place sounded extremely exhilarating, with flavours of the ice creams are unique and inspired by Indian desserts or fruits which we were used to eating while growing up in India. There was Chikkoo,Sitaphal, Tender Coconut , Guava flavoured ice cream. Then there was Raj Bhog, Pan and Shahi Gulkand ones.
There is something about of Ice cream which awakens the childlike enthusiasm in me and makes the world a colourful and a place full of wonders. We chatted animatedly about which flavour we should try , we seemed to be squealing in joy just looking at the names of flavours.
The lovely persons at the counter looking at our indecisiveness offered a taster on a small little spoon 🥄 with Guava ice cream served with a sprinkle of salt and chilli powder, just like how a Guava is eaten back in India.
The spoonful of icecream transported me to streets of South Mumbai, years ago , to a sunny afternoon of a workday, outside my workplace, where I would buy Guava from the hawker on the street at lunchtime, and the hawker would Cut the fruit in to four .
I would nod my head absentmindedly thinking of some mundane task waiting for me at the desk
He would sprinkle some masala between the cut fruit , rub the cut fruit gently to spread it evenly.
I would bite in to the fruit ,the spicy chilly with the fleshy sweet fruit creating this delicious blend, bursting with flavours in my mouth. It would just make me stop to enjoy it’s deliciousness. I would be standing amidst the the hustle and bustle of Mumbai, with the traffic flying by, office goers rushing in and out of the buildings, the flavours making me forget the rush, and bringing about a moment of calm in the busy streets, like there was a rhythm in this mad rush around.
I would head back up to my desk slowly savouring the moment, biting and chewing the delicious fruit . I would place the rest of the fruit on my desk and get ready for the next part of my work day.
And my colleague would peak at my desk from her cubicle , watching my happy face biting in to the fruit.
“ I am going to get some Peru. Where is the hawker standing ? “
Guava in Marathi is called Peru.
Such is the power of nostalgia!! A small bite of ice cream brought such immense joy and brought flooding back beautiful memories. What seemed so mundane to me then years back, is not so mundane after all. All the mundane of today perhaps has some not so mundane moments of tomorrow.
“Food is not rational. Food is culture, habit, craving and identity.” – Jonathan Safran Foer