Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Eat, Pray, Love - Tale of a Forgotten Delicacy

14th of April. During my childhood, I used to be filled with mixed emotions on this day. Extreme happiness - because, every year, my grandmother would give me 50 rupees on Puthandu or the Tamil New Year's Day. And extreme sadness - because, I, along with the other hapless beings of my family had to wake up at 4.00 am!

Tamilians have a peculiar obsession with dawn. And this obsession becomes a non-negotiable condition on festive days. So, back then on the 14th of April, my morning sleep was worth 50 rupees. Every Year. Ha!

Food is an important component of festivals across the globe and Puthandu is no exception. To mark the distinction between the everyday and the festive day, communities insist upon the preparation of certain food items. That's why they are called "delicacies". Food plays an important role in strengthening communities and shaping cultures. But, these are the words of a budding scholar.

On Puthandu, my grandmother used prepare a particular dish using raw mangoes and jaggery. "Maangai Pachadi"! I am trying to connect taste and memory and distaste and sorrow because as a teenager, I never understood the concept of eating a partly sweet and partly sour dish. That too on New Year's day! Aloo paranta was my comfort food. Not "Maangai Pachadi"!

My grandmother had her own logic. She would say, "Each food has a story to tell. If you would start your year with a dish that has multiple flavours, you would appreciate the multiplicity of life. Maangai Pachadi is neither purely sweet, nor purely sour. Similarly, the upcoming year will offer you both happy and sad days. That's the only way to taste life!"

Stories can be found everywhere. Stories have the power to establish communities beyond politics, economics and technology. Stories can bridge the gap between the past and the present.

And what better way to indulge in stories and connect with people than to celebrate meaningfully!

Happy New Year... :)