First and foremost I would like to thank my friend Roberta Pimentel for giving me this opportunity to write on her blog. It is no less than an honour she bestowed me with. Hope her blog goes from strength to strength and continues to be a source of inspiration for all who want to let the world know their opinions and beliefs on things around them. Giving voice to thoughts is not everyone’s cup of tea, but taking time out to read what others got to say is no less noble, so I would also thank you, my reader, for taking time out to read this.
This life is given to us as a gift, but what have we done with this priceless and invaluable gift? All man’s struggle began with food, that was his first primary need, and Nature has provided man with ample bounties to satisfy his hunger, he provided orchards full of fruits, fields full of a crop, rivers full of fish; man lacked nothing, he was exalted. Soon another kind of hunger took hold of humankind, the desire to grow, to evolve, to question, and slowly he became civil, learning the importance of clothing, realising that to live he needs love, the love of a life partner, the love of children. As this realisation came to another need raised, the need for a stable home, the necessity of society, the need of civilisation. Then came the smaller needs, the everyday needs and man derived barter system, soon this creation of God was too busy in evolving from Stone Age to Bronze Age and from Bronze Age to Iron Age.
With each new age(that lasted several million years), humans came to know the value of money, with passing time barter turned to gold and silver coins, but yet we worked to earn, but make enough to fulfil our daily needs. Needs that were simple, readily achievable, our main motto was happiness, the joy that was derived when you eat with the family when you sleep peacefully and when you can feel one with nature. Then slowly our simple needs were replaced by desires and dreams, gold became the sin of man, it was no more currency, but it became a matter of honour and pride when a stable Home didn’t mean shelter, it meant grandeur and luxuries. When clothing wasn’t just to cover nakedness, but it became a thing of beauty. But still man knew how to be content if not happy, he worked all day and then you enjoyed the simple pleasures life offered in the evenings when he returned home to his family. Food too changed its forms and meanings but it was still something that was given respect, it was cooked with patience and consumed with love.
We are taught to question everything, to challenge everything. Scientists today are even trying to solve the mystery of Birth and Death. Nothing is left to the imagination or Divinity. Today we live in Modern Age; we are neither happy nor content. Our passions and ambitions have taken the uppermost seat on our priority list. Goals, deadlines, and life plans have become words of daily use. We expect a lot; a lot is expected from us. Even family and friends, who were once a place to find solace and companionship have become materialistic and practical. Even love is not given freely, and unconditionally, it’s too been cursed by the “give some get some” attitude that has plagued our mind and hearts. We have no time to eat, if we have time to eat we aren’t hungry, we have no time to sleep, if we do get few hours to sleep we stay up worrying about innumerable things that whatsoever won’t be solved by thinking alone. We haven’t spent an honest day with our children and spouse; we haven’t taken our parents blessings in ages. We haven’t visited that best friend in months, and we don’t remember when was the last time we looked up at the rising moon or the setting sun. Flowers are only something to be bought and given to parties and promotions; we don’t even stop to admire their sheer beauty or inhale their fragrance. As we sit in the car and drive to work, we don’t think that let me feel the wind on my face; we constantly check the time on watches and cell phones. We are suffering from endless physical and mental problems, but we don’t have a moment to spare for the doctor even.
Let me ask you a few simple questions. How many of you have got a three or four BHK? Great ! Now tell me how many family members you got? Less than the rooms in your house? Hmmm, how many of you have a fully functional, highly equipped kitchen which a Barbeque, a Tandoor, a Griller, an all-purpose Oven? Many, how many of you made something from your hands last time? How many of you have bedrooms with an AC, a home theatre, a high-tech music system? When was the last time you sat with your spouse and watched a movie together or danced on a song? How many of you have that high-end luxury car that can go from 0 to 200 in seconds? When was the last time you went for a drive with your family?
Uncomfortable questions I am asking? But these were the easy ones, let me ask you the tough ones. How many contacts are there in your WhatsApp? Wow ! You all got so many contacts, Great! When was the last time you talked to that best friend from school? Or the cousin who called you and you promised to call back but never did? How many of you take care of your parents financially, provide them with best medical care, servants, aiding equipment? When was the last time you told your mum that you love her, you told your dad that you miss him? When was the last time you sat with them and listened to their pains, to their fears? Now I know when it comes to kids we provide with the best school, best coaching, best diet, best games, but when did you last sit with them and helped your daughter with her math problem? Or went to see your son play in school team? How many times a year you gift your spouse precious gifts, anniversary, birthday, valentines? Right ! When did you last told your wife that you love her? You can ask your 10 FB friends how are they, but have you bothered to ask your husband how he is?
Friends these are not taunts and jibes, this isn’t even sarcasm or cynicism, it’s my plea to you all, that please don’t waste this gift you got, The Gift Of Life! You only live once, you won’t get a second chance at it, so please, please go and grab it with both hands and live it, before it slips away from your hands like sand. Kiss your kid’s goodnight, hug your wife in the morning, take a stroll in the park, walk barefoot on the grass, pluck a flower and smell it, pick fruit from the and bite. Take your sister to buy a book, help your brother write that love letter. Go to that friend’s house and spend some quality time, call your cousin and ask if he needs something, hold your mother’s wrinkled hands and ask her if she is okay, keep a hand on your father’s shoulders and tell him that you will take time out to get his eyes tested. Smell the morning coffee, eat a hearty breakfast, come back from work on time and play with your kids, help them study, and last but not the least, sit together with your family and eat at least one meal a day with them.
Think of the sensual characteristics of food. There is, of course, its taste and the multiple flavours and spices which get our digestive and creative juices flowing. There is the aroma of food calling forth the smells and perfumes of childhood. There is the colour of food and its presentation, which appeals to our visually oriented self and invites us to the table. And then there is the actual taste of food, its texture and feel.
In India eating together and sharing is so important and sacred that we practice it on festivals on special occasions. On the wedding day the bride and groom are made to feed each other many times during the ritual as to make an emotional connect in between them, on Raksha Bandhan, brothers and sisters feed each other sweets making their loving bond even sweeter. On Diwali too we have dinners and lunches together, gifting each other’s sweets and dry fruits to let each other feel the strong connection made by sharing food.
You will never forget that stranger you met in the restaurant, with whom you shared lunch, you won’t forget that far related aunt who made you your favourite Paranthas and sat with you as you both ate. You won’t forget that kind lady on the train who offered you her Tiffin; you won’t forget that neighbour who brought you Kheer. Breaking bread with someone isn’t just sharing a meal, it’s sharing a life, it’s sacred and divine, it connects people in ways more than you can know. Remember, all man’s struggle began with food; it’s our most basic need, and it’s a pleasure we derive three times a day, we can’t just ignore its importance or skip it like an unwanted hindrance. Don’t eat in a hurry, don’t eat while using the laptop, take the time to eat, enjoy your meal, laugh with your loved ones as you eat.