Every time we went on the train in India, my mom went crazy for days preparing. She would pack anything and everything in sight, just in case. “Just in case” was a big theme for mom. Sam and I would run around excitedly choosing clothes, toys, games to keep us entertained on our train ride. We get to the train station and I would get to pick out one comic book to read. Sam would advise me on which one would be the best to get for this particular trip. Traveling was the best part of my 7 year old world.
The event that I most looked forward, however, was mom’s fresh lime rice and gongura mutton. She made it because it had natural preservatives and therefore would last us a couple days without refrigeration. I had no idea that this is why she made it. I thought it was because it made our trip special. 23 years later, I vividly recall the perfect blend of citrus, tang, and spice bursting together in my mouth. The rice was a marriage of textures and flavors which included toasted split lentils, and soft lemony rice with a touch of turmeric and dried red chillies. Then there is the gongura mutton which is the right partner for the rice–with its tangy fresh, and tender goat meat. I couldn’t get enough!
The four of us ate together, while the green fields of India ran across our windows. Sam sat next to one window, and I sat next to the opposite. My favorite memories of my family are riding trains together, eating, fighting, and being there–just us four. Food and good company; ancient as the rice plant, yet it’s my air.
The other day, I found myself defending my need and deep desire for a duty free lunch and got very upset that no one else in my profession or at least no one else in the room seemed to need it like I do. Why do I need others to feel the same way I do in order to feel okay with my decisions? Why can’t I be happy without sharing my love for food with others? This need for validation is my most frustrating trait.
The truth is I love food.! There is nothing that is better than sitting down to eat a perfect meal with loved ones. I love my need for food and would never want to not have the palate that is so distinctly mine. Yet, I live in a society where fast food and 25 minute lunches are the norm. In a world where lunches, breakfasts, or dinners are optional. Fresh meals are a luxury. Yes, swimming around are the opposite of my beliefs, but does that mean I am not in the right? Does it mean I need others to be on my side?
Perhaps being human is just that: a being who will always desire validation. Here’s the truth, though, we/I need to be ready to accept myself as I am today in this moment right now. How do I get on that train? How do I get to a place where I am seeing myself, truly seeing my genuine self?
I’ve heard affirmations, I’ve heard prayers, meditations. The only place to begin is to take it just one millisecond at a time. With each second, comes more acceptance and less need for validation. This is the road to my best meal.