Its 2:45am and I have wretched classes tomorrow but my mind is in a different kind of insomnia. The insomnia is due to an article in the Sunday Times on Koftas- a mughlai dish which has its origins in the ultramarine city of Istanbul. The article articulated the varieties of koftas leaving my taste buds regretting for not eating the Sunday mess pudding ‘appropriately’.
Just as I finished reading the ‘taste-provoking’ article a thought crossed my mind on the vibrancy of the largest democracy of the world. India offers such a varied social-cultural milieu that an artist can never be short of hues to paint the impeccable portrait. Where else can you find a nation which celebrates Id and Diwali almost at the same time of the year? Where else will you find a nation having the muezzin as well as the pandit calling for Morning Prayer in the wee hours of the day?
Every morning when the sun’s rays crinkle my eyelids, when the chirping of the sparrow invades the stillness of the morning I breathe ‘India’s air’. This might sound an unlikely term but India has a distinction even in the oxygen that one breathes. (For those who have ‘pollution’ in their minds should stop reading this endless praise for Bharat). To me the ‘Indian air’ is a concoction of herbs, sandalwood, sprinkle of masalas , raat-ki-rani bloom and the invigorating fragrance of hard-bound archaic books. This is a sort of drug that I have to sniff lest I should become a damsel in distress in a Shakespearean Tragedy. This is my most favourite part of the day. Whenever I am at home, Ma and I cook a healthy breakfast and an afternoon meal in the early rays of the sun. My heart blossoms into a wine-coloured orchid on seeing Dadi water the sacred Tulsi planted in our aangan, part of her morning regime. I cannot picture this soulful experience anywhere else in the world. In college, my morning walks act as the substitute.
We might have topped the UNDP Multiple Poverty Index and other notorious lists, still there is something about this country which made the mighty Mughals and the even mightier British leave their homelands for the oriental core. During the summer months I had taken a vacation outside India and the pining for India’s breeze left me in a forlorn state. I missed the khadi and block printed boutiques amidst the array of burgeoning overly-priced shops in 5th Avenue. I pined for the chai-wallah and phulki-wallah who often haunted my dreams. The longing for Bharat was so immense that I asked my aunt to always make Indian dishes for dinner. Those Indian dishes mind you did not include fancy Indian Cuisines; it was pure and simple Lauki, turai, bhindi, aloo-rasa, mango pickle and the famous Desi Dahi available in the Indian stores.
Mera Bharat Mahaan…there is more to this…watch out for this space for more tete a tete with Bharat….