When I was 15, I never imagined living away from my parents. I wanted to, but I didn’t think it would ever happen. When I turned 17 my parents sent me away to university and I couldn’t have been more greatful. It was freedom the kind I’d craved and it meant making my own decisions and it also meant a ‘HUGE’ bump in pocket money!!! 😮
In university, I learnt to wash my own clothes after I put all my clothes together in the washing machine and all the colors bled onto one another. I learnt how to make my own bed because, the lack of our housekeeper Roopa meant I’d come back to my dorm after classes to be greeted with a messy bed and a wet towel on top of my comforter. Also, learnt that I need to put my towel out on the line to dry if I didn’t want it to be smelly & gross & eventually grow mould. I learnt how to share a bathroom and keep all of my junk together in little bags as opposed to my dressing table back home, which if I have to be really honest with you, was my dumping ground for the wet towel I mentioned earlier.
But, the most important thing I learnt in University (besides the extremely expensive education my parents paid for) was how to cook. I mean I always knew how to cook, I mean who doesn’t? It’s easy to learn the technicalities, follow recipes available in books and online but you’re never quite sure if it turned out exactly like the pictures are you? It took me a while to bridge the gap between following instructions and the food actually tasting good.
Before I came to Uni my mom taught me how to put things together, no doubt about it. She was trying to teach me how to cook but I felt no need or interest in learning. But I soon developed the need to learn how to cook and that eventually became a point of interest, especially when I moved out of my hostel and into a private apartment building. A best friend I made in college taught me nuances, a few things to add or delete from some basic recipes and things started looking up. With every trip back home I took an active interest in what my mom was cooking, and she always made it a point to cook my favourite things. I’d go back to college & my shared apartment and always try out what I learnt, and if I must say so myself things I made turned out to be so great. Everybody loved it, but every morsel I put in my mouth tasted so so different from what my mom made. Why? How? I always seemed so confused about it. I’d cook the same things for my mom and she couldn’t find anything wrong with them either but I could.
I continued my cooking journey even after college and kept dazzling my friends (they were quite surprised that I knew how to turn on the gas, let alone cook) and my mother but I knew in my heart it was always missing something. Some years later when I got married I learnt some great things from my mother- in- law (also a great cook). I recreated those in her absence and for her approval as well and although she gave me a A+ it just wasn’t…
When Mukul & I got a place of our own I couldn’t get a cook for sometime so I took it upon myself to cook and with every vegetable I chopped, every pot I stirred, every dish I prepared, every time I plated it and served it I knew what I’d missed. Every bite Mukul would take and every time he’d open his eyes wider and say “mmmmm”, I’d take a step closer to acknowledging what gave my mother’s cooking that extra taste. Every time I cook his favourite meal and when he clears the dishes, he makes it a point to give me an extra few kisses and it always makes me smile and I finally know the secret ingredient..Love
If you cook, then you’ll know that when you’re in a good mood, the food that you make is always tasty, however small or large a portion it is. But when you’re in a foul mood things never tend to work out. My mother once told me that the key to making sure I cook good food is to remember to dump all of my stress, my sorrow & my grief before entering the kitchen. She told me that the food that I make (or anybody who cooks for more than themselves actually) not only feeds me but somebody else as well and I have to make sure I always add that extra ingredient: Love. Because that’s what I want in the bellies of my family & friends instead of all my life’s worries.
I have stood by this thought and I strongly endorse it too. Whenever Mukul & I fight we get take out or we pause the fight and go out. Another great idea for all you couples out there but that is another story for another time. For now I leave you with a little something on love: ” The only thing we never get enough of is love; and the only thing we never give enough of is love.” – Henry Miller