April 2, 2002

no place like home

my mother sent some of my favorite home-made pickle and garam masala along with mahesh and vidya, who are on their ‘honeymoon tour’ of europe.

they arrived last week, and amid exciting though hectic itineraries such as exploring some of the streets and palaces of london with my friend prakash advani, who was also here after his cebit visit; trying to make the best of our cosy little one-bedroom home to accommodate everyone; rushing before sunrise (thrice) to the netherlands embassy with praveen, for a visa to amsterdam, just in time for the four-day easter holiday, i left the packets untouched.


we came back from our brief dutch vacation late last evening. as i unpacked our travel clothes and inspected my brand new growing interest(s) — house plants — my eyes fell on the packets that my mother had sent.

i opened them slowly, one-by-one, savouring lungfulls of the familiar aroma that quickly filled the whole house. as usual, amma’s packaging was excellent; not one, not two, but three neat plastic covers to keep the pickle and masala flavours from escaping. i promptly transferred the contents into bottles of my own, and into whatever plastic dabbas i could find.

all the packets done but one — curry leaves powder — a spicy favourite best enjoyed with hot rice and ghee or dosas, her own tasty invention made of curry leaves that had gone too dry. i patiently untied the knots on the tiny plastic covers, and as the packet finally emerged, i found myself smiling, despite a slow hesitant tear that rolled down my cheek.

between those sheets of plastic, crisp and intact — perhaps due to the vaccuum that the taut plastic created — was a piece of onion peel. it had travelled all the way from my country, from the kitchen in my home. i held it in my palm for a while, and then, i crushed it and threw it away.

i thought this could never happen to me, but right now, i guess i must confess…
i am a little homesick.