Monday, May 31, 2010

Cooking Mythology!

Mixing turmeric in the vegetables before smelling the salt to add it to simmering potatoes and aubergine, I resisted the thoughts on Hindu mythology. There are two massive epics, The Ramayana and the Bhagwat Geeta. Stirring the lentils and counting the whistles as I poured a cup of rice into heavy-based pot, measuring two cups of water, I thought, how strange most children born in the narrative of bhagwat geeta are out of wedlock. Most women choosing powerful deities to father the children over their husbands! Did we have a civilization where marriage was not as 'sacred' as today and good genes determined whom the women in wedlock would mate with, to have gifted and healthy generations. Chopping onions, de seeding tomatoes and slicing green chili, I brood over the stern, dry values of Ramayana. Ram, the avatara of Visnu, an ideal king was sent to fourteen years of exile by his step mother so that her son would rule. She enters a 'kope bhavan' a palace where the queen would retire to when she was angry and discontented. She reminds the king of a promise he had made while on the battle field as she saved his life. The politics reigns and the virtuous Rama along with his devoted wife Sita move to the forests. A demon abducts Sita and carries her to Sri Lanka, after a fierce battle, Sita is overjoyed to unite with her husband. Rama stuns her by asking her to marry anyone as he could not take back a woman who had stayed under another man's roof! Sita is enraged. I mix milk with whole wheat flout and take off my three rings to knead the dough. Sita jumps into a fire as she thinks it is beneath her to accompany a man who has so publicly raised a doubt on her chastity. Fire cannot touch her and the fire god, the 'agni devta' appears praying to Rama to take back his wife as she was pure as pure can be. It's time to pack husband's lunch and I wash the steel containers. Sita, cools down and accompanies Rama to Ayodhya. Four containers, two I fill with rice, a little pickle on the side and one with 'dal' the lentil soup. Once back all is quiet till a spy reports to Rama of a washer man who refuses to take back his wife as she had been away under another man's roof. " I am no Rama" he says, "to take back a tarnished woman". Fourth container, I fill up with the potato and aubergine vegetables with a bit of tomato and onion that I saute in mustard oil. Sita, pregnant with twins is abandoned without an explanation in a forest where she is found by a sage and given shelter.

It is time to serve breakfast so I pour cold milk and two spoons of coffee and sugar to the blender and switch it on. Mythologies churn in my mind and cold milk swirls in the blender. The bhagwat geeta they say is 6000 years old and Ramayana older than that and what a contrast in value systems. After the radically logical approach of Krishna in Bhagwat Geeta as he encourages ' Arjun,' his disciple to wage a war against those who had cheated the five princes of their land and humiliated their common wife-draupadi. He uses all the tactics, negotiation, guerrilla warfare, threat and when nothing works sly methods to cheat the enemy just giving back the enemy taste of their own medicine.

Coming back to today when there is so much ruckus on just sketching portraits of a prophet, I do not know weather to laugh or feel frustrated. The very idea of not having idols is to identify the creator with the non manifested, a much higher state of awareness, whet could be more contradictory that create mayhem on an approach that was just to establish a stream of thought that self realization could be attained through either means, through devotion or though meditating on the abstract manifested creator. I pack the lunch and stuff the dough with onion-tomato-green chilli and roll it into thin parantha, a little butter in the flat pan and I press it to crisp both sides. Golden 'parantha' on white plate with cold coffee, husband says it tastes good!

Pic: The valley of flowers, clicked by son and husband.

1 comment:

  1. I guess the good tasting food that you prepared confirms your to work on those clean heels :-)

    You're a great writer. I've never seen writing quite like this before, but it was a neat trip into your mind. Am sorry to hear that you don't often take praise face-to-face and would hope that you soon become overwhelmed with it.