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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Food for Thought

First weekend in Bangalore, after a lost week and a weekend of rather, futile house hunting. I temporarily resigned myself to a hostel like existence for some time to come, and wait till about Dipavali. I am tired of looking at matchboxes for houses and eager agents ready to palm off any place as just 10 minutes from KR Puram.

Weekends, it seems are worse than weekdays in Bangalore for traffic, the same cars packed one after the other, with the only difference being in the clothing of its inhabitant(s).The blue shirt , black pant combo is replaced by a jean, a glare and fancy trophy wife with a cutie kid to complete the picture. I spent 2.5 hrs navigating an 8 km trip. Finally, fed up of seating on my butt I decided to make use of the portion below it, so I got down and walked for about 30 minutes. The weather is good so no major deal and I am glad I can still pull off such walkathons.

Enter evening, met D at his place which is kind of accessible from my remote inhabitant. After a week of survival on fruit juice, bread and jowar rotis, I wanted some fiery flavor on my palette or rather some junk in my system. Pizza Hut, was zeroed on and as usual I was hungry, my hunger much fueled by the 30 minute walk.

"A mushroom soup, a palette of garlic bread with cheese, one serving of cheese tortillas and a fresh garden salad ",  I said without glancing at the menu.

D what about you??

D was still lost in the menu, अब्बे क्या कन्या की तरह घूर रहे हो , double कर दू क्या यही आर्डर ?

" Who else is joining us? ," D looked up briefly from the menu.

No it’s just us; it was not one of my crowd days.

" You ordered all that just for you?!!! " D asked with just a tad bit of surprise. Having been in consulting for a long time, nothing really surprised him anymore. He once told me, that consultants become so hardened, so slick in their appearances and acts, that they could murder someone in cold blood early morning and carry on with their routine work without a hair out of place, and come back and sleep as though nothing happened.

" Yea..... I am hungry, ….you can taste too… " , I added a little mollified, " Of course we will share the pizza it is more value if we order a large one than 2 small ones".

साले इसके बाद पिज्जा भी खायेगा  ?? ,  queried D , with the curvature of his eyebrows increasing slightly.

This conversation was making me hungrier, I nodded to the waiter, " Just get a tomato soup for him, I will order later"

" This salad is good, something nice for grass eaters like us" ,  said D.

He made way for some of the tortillas, and after a bite, and gulp looked at me with a distraught expression.

क्या हुआ खाने मैं कुछ गड़बड़ है क्या ?? ", having paid a bundle for something available just across the road for a fraction, I expected quality if not anything else.

" No man, it is navratri and we are eating onion "


At my place, only Amma did her ritual 9 day fast and all. I however could not eat food without the pungency of onion or garlic, having been bought up on a diet of roadside hole in walls, in UP and Delhi

" Hey, you know the rational behind avoiding onion??,  It is just that anything that did not smell good was not considered bad for health, but onion is actually good"

No it is not that, it something more, said D now munching contentedly through the remaining tortilla. He seemed to be deciding that after a sin committed there is no turning back, now you got to do justice to the sin.

His subsequent explanation was very enlightening much like a myth, so here it goes.

Hindu Dharma divides food consumables into three categories

1. Satvic – peace, calm inducing

Any food item that is easily grown, and regionally common. It is cooked without oil or spice but with sparing amounts of gee and salt, eaten sparingly. Such food is said to induce calm, peace in mind. Rice, basic dhal, lentils, region specific vegetables

Discovery - My, entire gang of roommates used to hibernate after a healthy dose of my culinary favorite of Pongal !

2. Rajhsi – Ambition, ego boosting, satisfying

Exotics like milk, khoya, dry fruits, and difficult to grow and procure food items. These are cooked, in lavish dose of butter, ghee(no oil) spices and eaten lavishly as well.The spices are generally exotics like kesar,cardamom, which do not induce any burning sensation,post consumption. They are said to fuel a sense of ambition, well being, growth and ego in an individual.

Discovery -  Two back to back helping of Bourneville I did experience a sense of well being unlike contentment and very unlike the advertisements that show “Lost in ecstasy kind of morons” !

 3. Tamsic – Greed, envy, and anger boosting

These include items such as onion, garlic, non vegetarian items and (some other which I forgot!!), cooked in oil(no ghee) with a mish mash of spices, that cause subsequent burning sensation.These, fuel a sense of greed, hate, and envy in an individual.

 Discovery - Not sure if the subsequent burning sensation, after pyaaz parathas was due to acidity , or envy ;)

The tortilla was now done as well as the salad, with garlic bread on its way to extinction as well.

" So, now we are having Rajhsi and Tamsic materials. In the worst case scenario, you would be ambitious in addition to being envious of someone hence would show anger towards him, and maybe snuff him out; " , I said mimicking my finger at the neck for more clarity.

"Nopes, I would cool off your system, post this with a meetha paan, with extra gulkhand to sweeten your mind" ,  he said as he finished the last of his garlic bread, "Our Dharma gives a lot of loopholes to exploit",  he said adding with a smile. In a flash, I remembered the pile of books on his desk, and realized that this was not a leg pulling session at all.

 PS- We did order Pizza which I ended up finishing, and true to his word the paan was awesome, it melted in my mouth at the counter itself so I had a second one. And, a 30 minute walkathon session later, hunger as well as this gyaan emerge simultaneously( Fruit Juice ...where are you my dear !!)

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