THE SUGARY AVERSION THAT ALTERED MY TASTE BUDS

It is rightly said: “Sometimes cultural variations do describe a wholly different mode of understanding what makes feel good.’’

There was a month of fieldwork internship assigned to me from an organization wherein I got an opportunity to travel in some parts of Gujarat. From Baroda to Saurashtra region, my stay other than the living quarters and hotels lasted at two Gujarati families. Since I belong to a different culture and so settling into other cultures take time but yes being an Indian, our value system has great strength when it comes to adapting different colors peacefully. So it was a good quality time spent in acquainting with people and understanding a language that I wasn’t used to. It took a little longer with loads of patience but I am glad I made it. I lived with them, ate what they had and by the end of it even started talking like them. I saw a change in myself. The conversations which earlier flew above my head and annoyed me, started attracting my attention whereby I actually made efforts to decipher their words which sounded foreign to me.
But here comes the struggle, and it was the Gujarati food. I intend to make no offense while saying this but it used to get on my nerves when I found a tinge of sugar in probably every dish. Though I pretended to be diplomatic in front of the people honoring me with so much respect and courtesy but inwardly, my rants never ended. It really used to surprise me when I was served sweet dal and all the recipes with not so of course sugar in them. However since I was tired and hungry after a day’s hard work, I gulped in whatever was offered to me at the house.

With this becoming a habit, I realized that it actually started satisfying my taste buds. By adding lime juice and coupling the dishes with their homemade sweet-sour pickle, I gradually started enjoying my food. This actually seemed better to me than the bland or spicy food that I usually preferred. The sweet-salty food was actually a neutral taste that perfectly amalgamated spices and sugar. Though the quantity of sugar added in the meals lowered when I moved to Saurashtra region but yes the little less sweet flavor still persisted. I often used to tease the aunts out there when I became familiar with them that their jar of sugar is closer to them in the kitchen than the tastemaker which is salt. Addition of sugar to the food is like a daily ritual for them.

Sugar, which only deserved to be in the category of desserts for me was being consumed by me in every form through lunch, snacks, and dinner. I discovered the actual reason of adding sugar in the food was to nullify the effect of salty water in Gujarat (being a coastal region). The other reason that I was told was that the salty sugar food helps one stay hydrated in the dry hot climate of Gujarat. Anyway, the best of the sweet dishes served to me were the Aam ras and the Shrikhand.
Aam Ras
is the pulp of a ripe mango which is extracted from hand or blended mechanically. As my usual habit, I initially kept it for the end of the meal to be taken as a dessert when I was served with lunch. However soon, I found it such a delectable dish that I actually used it as a dip with puris and rotlis. On the other hand, Shrikhand is sweet strained curd which is flavored with nuts, saffron, and cardamom. Both of them are such delicacies that are completely irresistible.

I realized that when my taste buds became comfortable with the sweetness and started remaining happy, I could connect with people more and also found their etiquettes very homecoming. I somehow felt that the food with added sugar reflected their sweetness in character and nature. It was like a trademark of their warmness with which they served me.

Having described my experience which actually turned my aversion towards sweet food to likeliness and wanting more of it, my taste buds have actually changed. I no longer mind having sweet dal with rice or chapati with Aamras. Shrikhand has become my so favorite that even now at the campus, I purchase it often from the nearby Amul parlor. I cannot still forget how I made a fuss when I earlier used to see my Gujarati friends adding sugar to everything here served at the campus. It was like I always wondered how can they ingest so much sweetness in normal meals until now when I have started savoring the sugary flavor. Now before passing comment on someone’s food habits, I understand how different flavors are an expression of a unique cultural identity. More than the arousal of my taste buds, the ingredient sugar has certainly fostered the spirit of understanding in me. It has positively pushed me to give away my habit of being judgmental on someone’s eating habits. The questions that what is actually delicious and what is not might tap powerful emotional differences and taboos but we need to delve into it sometimes because it is actually worth it! Just like the way the addition of sugar in every meal in Gujarat has stimulated my thinking to go beyond tolerance and enjoy the differences, similarly, I would suggest everyone try the food which seems bizarre to us at least more than once in the lifetime. For we don’t know how we end up discovering something really savoring for our taste buds!

IT IS MY IDENTITY. CANNOT LET IT GO.

I love shopping for groceries. I usually go to places where there is a display of wide variety of vegetables, fruits and other staples. There is some satisfaction in walking aisle by aisle through various sections drooling over what is offered. Usually I make up my mind on what I want to cook for the upcoming week, so, when I am walking I am recollecting the recipe and required ingredients to buy apart from what’s there at home. I have observed one thing that distracts me from this process many times, which is kids talking to their parents. Usually they pick-up a chocolate or fruit and keep asking their parents to buy it. What grabs my attention is that most kids do this only in English. Most of the parents respond in English too. 

India is a non-English speaking country. There are many languages Indians speak at homes (or so I thought). The trend now has changed. Most parents want their kids to learn English at a very early age. I can understand the need because they have to leave kids at day-care centres. Especially in metro cities, people from many states come for jobs. So, it is difficult to manage if the kid cannot speak English. While this is true, I clearly do not understand why kids are not encouraged to talk in their mother tongue. 

Kids of many of my colleagues cannot speak, read and write in their mother tongue. I don’t know why speaking in English makes us feel ‘elite’. When adults look down upon their own language, they won’t consider the language worthy enough for their kids to learn. This is the situation with people who are migrating to new places inside India. People living outside India have a different story. Some of my friends did not even manage to make their kids speak in Telugu. The reason they give is that, “the child does not have an environment to speak in our language. Who can they speak in that language with? only us, so, it is very difficult to teach“. As a result of this most grandparents cannot even feel the satisfaction of talking to their grandchildren because they don’t understand a bit of the conversation, in some cases there is no conversation only gestures. It is making children deprived of rightful love and care they deserve. 

Couple of years ago, mother of one of my friend’s neighbour expired while she was at her daughter’s place. Let me tell you what happened. The daughter and her husband moved to Melbourne. This lady, who expired travelled to Melbourne to help her daughter during her second pregnancy. They went out for medical checkup leaving their first child and the grandmother at home. By the time they returned home, the grandmother was on the kitchen floor, dead. The parents asked the kid about what had happened, for which he replied, “She was saying something when she fell on the floor and he did not understand what it was”. Apparently she was asking for water in their language, and the boy did not understand that one word, which might have saved her life. 

Mother tongue is a language in which we can express well. Learning mother tongue also has a positive impact on our brain. It also improves our ability to learn and improves cognitive thinking. Until the age of 6, children learn languages very quick.  As parents we should encourage our next generation to learn our mother tongue. Mother tongue is an identity, also a very important link to our cultural roots. There are simple ways in which one can make kids learn mother tongue. Always conversate with them in your own language at home and even when you are at public places. Remember bed time stories?? Without buying those English story books, teach kids about our culture through bed time stories in our own language. If kids talk in English (which they do because of what they learn at school), make sure you only respond in your native language. This would automatically make kids pickup the language. Do not worry about their English speaking skills, eventually they would pick up the language from school. 

That’s for kids, what about adults? Now-a-days many of us read books only in English. Isn’t this true? Once in a while read books from your own language. Read some news in your local language. Write in your language. When was the last time you did this? You may start with grocery list :-). 

I am not against learning or talking in English in any way. May be, few years from now, there may be a world with only one language, “English”… It saddens me that one day next generations won’t be speaking my language. It hurts to see languages die. Many languages are becoming extinct because we don’t use them any more. My mother tongue is my identity and I would love to talk in that language with pride anywhere, except for professional reasons. Let’s preserve our languages !!

No man fully capable of his own language ever masters another

– George Bernard Shaw

 

WHEN VALENTINE’S DAY WENT WRONG

Teenagers wait for this season with a valuable reason in their hearts. 15 years back it was not even in the picture. 14th February was just a very normal day like all other days. But once the colour of VDay stained this 14th Feb it got a different significance since then.

In the first article, I mentioned Valentine’s Day as a reminder to love but sometimes it so happens that even if we are reminded to love we fail or miss the mark somehow for some unexpected reason and we feel sad or hurt about it.

Two days ago when we reached Howrah station, we both husband and wife started walking on the platform to get out of the railway station. My wife walked ahead leaving me behind and I was walking behind slowly and at ease on the platform. There were a lot of people rushing out as well as walking into the station and we lost each other though I was calm knowing that we have our phones with us. A thought came to my mind as I was walking slowly…

Sometimes in a marriage or any relationship, when one tries to go ahead of the other instead of thinking the growth of both together, then they both lose each other for sometime till they find one another after much difficulty.

Do you remember, I said above that – “I was calm knowing that we have our phones with us”. Yeah, Love works as those phones to bring the partners, lovers, families together again. Kalpana said rightly, “If it’s the love it’s always there, just break the monotony to realise the beautiful feeling of being in love“. The moment we lose our track we should immediately turn back to Love and true love never fails.

After walking ahead little more, I saw my wife standing at a point waiting for me to come so that we both can walk out of the station. My co-passenger would not have waited for me, other passers-by would not have waited for me. But it was only my wife who waited for me because we have a relationship and love holds that relationship together like a knot.

Coming back to what I was saying at the beginning of this article that there can be many possible reasons for failing to observe a proper valentine’s day but a love life doesn’t end there with that one particular day of failure. Love is something much bigger and larger than Valentine’s day.

Dear friends! Are you feeling bad that you missed gifting your beloved on this day? Do you feel hurt because your spouse scolded you on this day? Is it hurting for you to find your lover was cheating on you instead of celebrating V Day with you? Are you angry because your husband slept without little love talks with you on The Day? Are you suffering from many hurts that the present marriage has given you and V Day is nothing but a taunt for you? Remember, Valentine’s day might go wrong but Love will never go wrong.

Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.

Love brings joy because God is love (love is not God), who is the source of our joy and happiness.

Stay Blessed!

GEEKY WAYS TO SAY I LOVE YOU

This article will appeal to most of the geeks out there. Here are a few of my favourites. It is really fun to express love in geeky ways.

It is tough for geeks to relate with people since they are low on socializing and do not have much exposure to romance. Nonetheless, girls always demand the guy to show his affection in terms of words, which could be a disaster for a geek. Here are some lines to impress your girl with words.

  1. I love you as much as there are helium atoms in Sun.” This could be replaced with “I love you as much as there are H2O molecules on this earth.” The purpose would be to show a geeky way to measure your love for her. Almost always, when a guy says “I love you”, girl questions “How much?”
  2. My heart is orbiting around you like an electron around the nucleus.” This is another way to simply tell her how much you think about her.
  3. Out of all the star trek movies, I enjoyed the second one the most because you were sleeping on my shoulder and I could smell you closer than ever.”
  4. No matter how much you reject my feelings, I know you will come back to me since Newton said that for every action (of love), there is equal and opposite reaction (of love) and Newton’s laws have never failed the world.
  5. The four chambers of my heart are overflowing with the love for you. Probably that’s why it beats so fast when you look at me.”
  6. The inter-connection of my neurons seems to be broken or is it my testosterone that is making me go crazy for you?”
  7. If I had to give up my mac, iPad, Wii and PS3, I would do that with tears in my eyes – tears of happiness.
  8. You give me enough energy, I don’t need caffeine.”  
  9. I can see high oxytocin in your eyes for me.”
  10. If I was an automobile engine, you would be the fuel to drive me.

As a female myself, I really wanted to help all the guys in this matter because expressing our feelings especially expressing love for someone we love is of uttermost importance. Many times we lose life’s this important battle or stay on the back foot because we fail to express ourselves at the right time.

So, go ahead and express… But remember, don’t use these lines on just anyone to flirt but use them carefully and responsibly for the one you love and care so much.

MONOTONY IS CAPABLE OF BREAKING HARMONY – BEWARE!

A regular scenario:

A woman murmuring angrily and washing dishes “how I wish I haven’t had accepted the marriage proposal, I was blinded by your rosy words.  Every friend of mine is leading a dream life – holidays, gifts, maids – what not and look at me here I am stuck in a vicious circle of breakfast-lunch-dinner-dishes-dusting” and as the obviously upset wife was continuing with her complaints and work ‘Boom‘ a strong sound from another room disturbs her rhythm.  She hurriedly washes her hands and rushes in the direction of the sound, wiping her hands on her sides and shouting “what happened, what now” and suddenly all her angry/complaining tone took a U-Turn to worry.  She saw her husband lying down on the ground as he slipped on a wet floor (thanks to kids getting hyper on a weekend) and wriggling in pain.

Oh! You have to be watchful, you are not a kid anymore. What if I was not around.  Look what have you done to yourself” and the flow continues (in-built in a woman’s genes 😁) while on other hands she was blasting up kids for such irresponsibility.  And she helps her husband to get up and get to a comfortable place. Hurries to get medicine, applies it and sits beside him to comfort him.

All the angst she was carrying disappeared in the air in a fraction of seconds and her love and care for him came to the surface.

It’s a pretty normal scenario we are grown up watching, experiencing in our own lives.  More miles we cross together, more milestones we reach more and more monotony sets in (majority follows the suit) making us doubt the very root of our relationships. But time and again many situations arise that restores our faith in love and determines our strength as a unit – a couple.

Reason beyond monotony:  When we mark the beginning of our relationships (committed ones, marriage or otherwise) we are set out to discover each other – likes, dislikes, mood swings, characteristic traits and much more.  This journey of discovery and self-realisation is always interesting. And definitely with an ample amount of Romance sprinkled the commencement is always colourful, bright and interesting.

But things take a different turn (not a U-turn necessarily) when we know each other really well and responsibilities of providing a safe & secured future occupy our priority list.  Efforts to thrill, surprise or cajole each other definitely take a back seat.  Perhaps sometimes we take each other for granted as well when it comes to the “Romance” part of life.  A petty example: a boyfriend reaches his girlfriend at her short notice leaving everything else at the helm of fate.  But when the same person is a husband and additionally a father can’t do the same thing unless an emergency is awaiting his attention for he is working to shape a better future for his beloved family.

Well, I won’t start off again on concepts of Love-Romance-Responsibilities, boring, right?

But Monotony has to be broken. For a simple reason – too much sedimentation of monotony could push love into the darkness of oblivion which is present but not obvious.  And that’s the point where harmony in a relationship is at stake.  Monotony in a relationship is one of the reasons resulting in issues like infidelity, extramarital affairs because “New and Undisclosed” always attract.  Comparisons and fall outs could also be probable outcomes of a never ending uninteresting routine.

How to break monotony:  I am not a columnist working for a magazine answering questions concerning relationships but I have few things in my mind (thanks to observation & experience) that I want to share, might come handy someday 😊:

  • Revisiting past is important to rekindle the lost giggles. Watching photographs, DVDs, a small talk over a cup of coffee about the treasured memories can help a lot in bonding again and again.
  • Quality time together.  Not necessarily expensive holiday trips but a stroll hand in hand, chirping or sometimes saying nothing just letting the golden silence sink in to dispel the disturbance caused by the clutter of words resonating in mind.
  • Cooking, yes you read it right. Cook your partner (oops I mean for your partner 😂😂) for the way to the heart is via the stomach. On contrary, you can also skip to cook sometimes, for the first step in breaking the monotony comes from breaking the schedules and anyways online ordering is so easy, use it, folks!.
  • Sharing chores often helps two ways – reduces the work stress and more time spent together in disguise, productively too 😁.
  • Gifts (though not a great supporter, yet won’t reject it completely) do work wonders.

Always remember one thing: Romance may fade over a period of time but love doesn’t.  If it’s the love it’s always there, just break the monotony to realise the beautiful feeling of being in love.

FIRST LOVE ISN’T LOVE-FOREVER

Valentine’s week is going on and people are ecstatically celebrating it. No doubt, it is very special. It is not that you can celebrate love only when it is Valentine. But the idea is to dedicate a few days of the year, for the one you love. If you ask what is love, you will get numerous answers. However, I am not going to define love. All I know is, love has no single definition because it never exists in one form. For example- we feel love for our parents, friends, siblings, nature, country, our partner and for many other things. In whichever form you feel it, there’s something in common. And that is, love is kind and you can love only when you know how to respect. Owing to the fact that without having a feeling of respect, you won’t understand the value of people or things around you.

We have seen in movies and read stories, first love is meant to be eternal. Some people are really lucky to have their first love turn into a lifelong bond or say marriage. Those who do not belong to this category are not at all Unlucky. Why? Because those people get another chance to find the best fit for them. I have seen and heard, people crying over their breakup; stating, it was their first love and they won’t be able to fall in love once again. Okay, this might be true in some cases. But it is not necessary that first love has to be forever. If you think, when you fall in love for the first time, you have found your soulmate then you are probably wrong. There’s no such soul which is similar to yours. Nonetheless, we find someone who feels right to our soul. And it is not fixed, you will find “that right person” in your first love.

When I was in school, I had a friend who was in love with a guy. The guy too loved her. They both used to steal glances at each other and did all those things which two people do when they fall in love. After one year, I saw both of them used to have frequent fights and were irritated by each other. I asked them to end the relationship as they both were not happy. They used to say, it is their first love and so they can’t break-up. Every day they would be in stress and couldn’t focus on studies. They started to lose respect for each other and therefore, they accused each other of every little thing. My friend used to say, she won’t be able to love again if she breaks up with him. However, they broke up and trust me, now both of them are happy. They both have found their perfect match. And I am happy for both of them.

If in a relationship, you are not happy and it is not working out, even after numerous efforts, then you don’t need to carry it on your back. Everything changes over time, even humans too. So, how can you decide that the feeling won’t change? Yes, it would remain the same only, if two people decide to make it eternal. For that, you need to give unconditional love along with commitment and respect. And loving someone unconditionally is not a piece of cake. It involves a lot of dedication and honesty within you.

There will be a time when you will have arguments but what matters is how do you overcome it. And if you can’t, then there’s no point in sticking to such a relationship. It is okay if your first love didn’t work out. Maybe you didn’t meet the right person or maybe both of you weren’t matured enough to hold on. So, don’t be disheartened. Remember, good things take time.

Concluding, I would love to share one of my thoughts,

“Someone broke your heart
and left into pieces?
Don’t cry over them.
Instead,
make a beautiful mosaic.”

CHANGE YOUR PERCEPTION OF LOVE

First things first, I am primarily focusing on Love between a Man and a Woman as a Man and a Woman that “could” culminate into life long togetherness. So other forms/facets of love not bothered here on this page today.

14th February is round the corner and something really obvious and repetitive going to happen. Ask me, I will tell you.  Television channels airing the same old “brand ambassador for romance” movies with a caption “Love is in the air, come experience it“; prices and sales of the greeting cards & flowers moving in the same – North direction; malls painted (well, almost or figuratively) in hues of pink, purple and red; girls planning how to react to the surprises they would or could get whereas boys demanding appraisals to meet the expectations of their fairer counter parts when it comes to surprising them. Have I missed on any point?  Yes? Let’s catch up then 😉.

And surprisingly it is something that I have noticed over a decade or fifteen years period(approximately), there’s been a transition in the very idea of how Love is perceived or looked at. The deep, vast and varied characteristic trait of Love has been reduced to a one-dimensional and shallow concept of Romance.  There’s a huge difference between Love and Romance. Few points of difference in a bird’s view:

  • While love is about staying together in thick and thin, romance commences when you are thin (read petite and svelte) and starts suffocating with extra pounds gained.
  • While romance demands regular surprises being in love requires absorbing shocks together .
  • Romance is more or less about flying sparks whereas love is about staying rooted with strength.

Well, that was preachy, isn’t it? But a truth indeed. Unfortunately with generations ascending Love and Romance are used as synonyms more often.  There’s an upward spurt in the number couples being rebels without a cause just because it’s more adventurous and they send a statement across and equally rapidly increasing number of fallouts after entering into a committed relationship (read marriage), growing number of couples giving a try to “live in relationships” because of their commitment phobia or simply lack of trust in their “Love” towards each other.  Thumb rule to be understood: To be romantically inclined towards someone it’s enough to know the good things only but to be in love forever you need to accept the negatives too.

And this is what is missing in love stories spun off late.

What could be the possible reason behind this shift? I am possibly too immature or possess little knowledge to talk about the infiltration or influence of one culture on another, so I won’t start dialog on that note.  What I see is the huge impact of electronic media in the form of films and television.  Love at first sight, sugar-coated talks, all perfect people, pleasant surprises, glossy images – this is what influencing young minds.  And by young I mean as young as 15 years. Shocking yet true. People started believing what they see onscreen, they imitate them and strongly desire to live their dream of a perfect relationship as portrayed on big or small screen.  But soon gets a reality check once the honeymoon period (not literally 😂) is over and responsibilities make in roads into a relationship.  Adjustments and compromises which a are part and parcel of relationship underlined by love are a big NO-NO in romance influenced by romantic films and novels because only one person among the two have a say or prefers to have a say.  And fights/ disagreements are considered to be bad omens and ironically we grew up our parents, grandparents, uncles-aunts having disagreements and arguments.  Because having arguments is not a sign of receding love.  On contrary caring even when you have a tiff with your partner is Love.  For instance I have seen couples not on talking terms yet the wife communicates without words that she has cooked for husband as she doesn’t want him to go hungry and husband acknowledges her efforts by persuading her to take medicines on time as he cares for her health (can safely call it my story 🙈).  This is Love in true sense, at least for me who belongs to old school. There might be no expensive gifts, holiday trips, sugar-coated words yet there’s priceless bond!

Something really disturbing:  Not everyone will agree with me with my idea of Love and Romance and there could be a possibility that I might have let some misconceptions breed within me.  You are always welcome to challenge my ideas in the comment section 😊.  So coming to the “serious” issue, as I told films are having an impact on the very idea of how love is perceived, I stick to it. Our films have relentlessly promoted stalking as a tool to woo a girl and some cheap disgusting ideologies like “If she says No it’s a Yes”, “Her silence is acceptance”, ” If she passes off smile then she is trapped”.  Unfortunately an entire brigade of young people are taking these cheesy lines of their beloved stars as gospel truths often resulting in some gore incidents like rapes, acid attacks, eve-teasing, stalking and much more.  Responsibility to curb such mentality lies with parents as to how they groom their kids positively about accepting others’ decisions, right education and of course the brand ambassadors of hypocrisy (read actors) should think socially & responsibly before endorsing anything onscreen.  May God gift them some sense.

Finally a petty message for every couple who are and who think they are in Love – for relationship goal don’t imitate any star couple but ask your parents or grandparents as to what relationship goals are; as to what it means and takes to spend a lifetime together. AND LOVE IS NOT AND NEVER EQUAL TO JUST ROMANCE, IT’S BEYOND AND ABOVE IT!

And last but not the least a comic video to show how Love is misunderstood by this young generation: