Nila Soru

Nila soru.
Food eaten under the moon.
Food shared with the moon.
Nila soru. Food blessed by the moon,
watching over you,
as the white morsel holds perfectly together,
moving from plate to mouth,
or better yet, from feeding hand to yours.

Nila soru
lining the edge of the plate
in little moons,
drawn from the big mother moon
with spots of curry, flecks of chutney
But the perfect mini moon will be yours
One…two…three

Nila soru sounds nothing like
ICE-CREAM
But it looks like it
Creamy curds, white rice
Ice-cream even has the same name
Vanilla. Venn nila.
The silvery moon
When it’s that delicious cold, you don’t care it’s not sweet.

Nila soru melts in your mouth
in a cold, tickly, giggly fit
And gurgles in laughter as the tang
hits the back of your throat
But other hands are reaching already
So you play with elbows, wrestle with fingers
Over the large plate,
As you race to catch that next
mouthful of laughter

Nila soru stilled by stern eyes
halting you mid skid
Mid wrestle, mid giggle,
reminding you to chew
but it’s so soft, how can you?
The feeding hand melts into yours
Another mouthful smiles up from your palm

Nila soru as you look up
see a bite taken out of the moon
You stop, worried, mid mouthful
and it goes down the wrong way
and you cough
When you look up again,
the moon is laughing back
So you pout and resolve to eat the moon again

Nila soru, goodnight.

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‘Nila soru’ is a phrase that adults use in rhymes, stories & play while feeding young children, especially on moonlit nights. This poem is an ode to the nostalgia, food & family that carry us through these difficult times with hope.


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NILA SORU (Moon Food) Nila soru. Food eaten under the moon. Food shared with the moon. Nila soru. Food blessed by the moon, watching over you, as the white morsel holds perfectly together, moving from plate to mouth, or better yet, from feeding hand to yours. Nila soru lining the edge of the plate in little moons, drawn from the big mother moon with spots of curry, flecks of chutney But the perfect mini moon will be yours One…two…three Nila soru sounds nothing like ICE-CREAM But it looks like it Creamy curds, white rice Ice-cream even has the same name Vanilla. Venn nila. The silvery moon When it's that delicious cold, you don't care it's not sweet. Nila soru melts in your mouth in a cold, tickly, giggly fit And gurgles in laughter as the tang hits the back of your throat But other hands are reaching already So you play with elbows, wrestle with fingers Over the large plate, As you race to catch that next mouthful of laughter Nila soru stilled by stern eyes halting you mid skid Mid wrestle, mid giggle, reminding you to chew but it's so soft, how can you? The feeding hand melts into yours Another mouthful smiles up from your palm Nila soru as you look up see a bite taken out of the moon You stop, worried, mid mouthful and it goes down the wrong way and you cough When you look up again, the moon is laughing back So you pout and resolve to eat the moon again Nila soru, goodnight. ———————————————————————– ‘Nila soru’ is a phrase that adults use in rhymes, stories & play while feeding young children, especially on moonlit nights. This poem is an ode to the nostalgia, food & family that carry us through these difficult times with hope. ———————————————————————- 🎶: CHAND TAARE: Yes Boss OST #theideasmithy

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The Waiting

I didn’t call it ‘The Wait’ because that implies a known finiteness, a visible end, a goal.

How does one learn waiting when one has always lived from distraction to distraction? For what are goals but distractions from the fact that life is endless waiting while drifting. But notions of time and space (ergo speed) give us reference, something to cling to and to define ourselves by how fast we are moving, what we are moving towards and all this in relation to other people. Space got taken out of the equation. And we realise how easily the time boundaries got erased too.

We are so used to seeing difficult circumstances as problems to be solved, issues to be resolved, abnormal conditions to be pruned & edited. But some situations are not helped by a problem solving approach. Instead, the approach actually impedes us because we get frantic about looking for the error area, an action that is dangerously close to a blame game. We also focus our attention on the questions like “What doesn’t work? What is wrong?”. This is a crippling loss of perspective.

Perspective is the one thing that can help us face a situation that cannot be solved. It gives us the stability needed to proceed without distraction. It keeps our resources & reserves in mind and makes us prudent. I find it helpful to ask myself, “What if this is how it is and it doesn’t indicate anything about me? What if the only thing to be done is for me to get through this? What if the test is not my ability, intelligence or strength but my endurance?” The answer is – of course, this is not about me. I am not important enough to the cosmos, to my planet or even to my species for the pandemic to occur just so I learn a few lessons. It is a liberating thought. Self-importance sits heavy and right now, the spirit can use some unburdening. What if it is not about how great I can be, but simply if I can be?

This brings me perspective. It tells me I’m okay just as I am. It lets me only have to think about my breathing. It helps me wait.

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THE WAITING I didn't call it 'The Wait' because that implies a known finiteness, a visible end, a goal. How does one learn waiting when one has always lived from distraction to distraction? For what are goals but distractions from the fact that life is endless waiting while drifting. But notions of time and space (ergo speed) give us reference, something to cling to and to define ourselves by how fast we are moving, what we are moving towards and all this in relation to other people. Space got taken out of the equation. And we realise how easily the time boundaries got erased too. We are so used to seeing difficult circumstances as problems to be solved, issues to be resolved, abnormal conditions to be pruned & edited. But some situations are not helped by a problem solving approach. Instead, the approach actually impedes us because we get frantic about looking for the error area, an action that is dangerously close to a blame game. We also focus our attention on the questions like "What doesn't work? What is wrong?". This is a crippling loss of perspective. Perspective is the one thing that can help us face a situation that cannot be solved. It gives us the stability needed to proceed without distraction. It keeps our resources & reserves in mind and makes us prudent. I find it helpful to ask myself, "What if this is how it is and it doesn't indicate anything about me? What if the only thing to be done is for me to get through this? What if the test is not my ability, intelligence or strength but my endurance?" The answer is – of course, this is not about me. I am not important enough to the cosmos, to my planet or even to my species for the pandemic to occur just so I learn a few lessons. It is a liberating thought. Self-importance sits heavy and right now, the spirit can use some unburdening. What if it is not about how great I can be, but simply if I can be? This brings me perspective. It tells me I'm okay just as I am. It lets me only have to think about my breathing. It helps me wait. 🎶: IN A SENTIMENTAL MOOD: Duke Ellington & John Coltrane #theideasmithy

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A Good Egg

I’ve been reading food fiction through lockdown. It was a little surprise since I’ve never been either a foodie or an enthusiastic cook. Food has been fuel, a functional need at best.

But in lockdown, I have found myself needing nourishment of the mind as well as the body. My physical health has been very decent these past few weeks and I realised some part of it is because I’m not eating outside food. It’s not just the ingredients, it’s the callousness of fellow diners who smoke, the impersonal touch of paid cooks, the self-esteem issues of dining companions that I can taste in every morsel I eat in those messy environs. Home, I’m only dealing with the very familiar dynamics of people I’ve known my whole life and food, similarly so.

@ayushee.ghoshal posted a picture of her poached egg experiment which made me pipe up about mine. I’d been making my breakfast in a fog of irritation at the weather & confinement. But our conversation made me think of the parts of my reading I’ve liked and the ones I didn’t.

I feel soothed by remembering the universality of food. It’s a positive counterpoint to the negative universality of a virus that doesn’t discriminate. It makes me feel connected to all human beings everywhere – our needs for nourishment, for protection, for affection, for validation, for community. I did not like reading about fashionable food circles, about toxic human politics brought onto the table. It feels wrong on a cellular level to poison the one thing that HAS to be wholesome.

But I guess we also need air to be clean, our minds to navigate conversations that are enriching (not combative). It makes me surer about not glorifying rage, about the importance of personal responsibility, about gratitude over guilt.

This morning, I thought about these things instead of how my hair was sticking to the back of my neck. And the eggs turned out beautifully. After all, all things do well when shown care.

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A GOOD EGG I've been reading food fiction through lockdown. It was a little surprise since I've never been either a foodie or an enthusiastic cook. Food has been fuel, a functional need at best. But in lockdown, I have found myself needing nourishment of the mind as well as the body. My physical health has been very decent these past few weeks and I realised some part of it is because I'm not eating outside food. It's not just the ingredients, it's the callousness of fellow diners who smoke, the impersonal touch of paid cooks, the self-esteem issues of dining companions that I can taste in every morsel I eat in those messy environs. Home, I'm only dealing with the very familiar dynamics of people I've known my whole life and food, similarly so. @ayushee.ghoshal posted a picture of her poached egg experiment which made me pipe up about mine. I'd been making my breakfast in a fog of irritation at the weather & confinement. But our conversation made me think of the parts of my reading I've liked and the ones I didn't. I feel soothed by remembering the universality of food. It's a positive counterpoint to the negative universality of a virus that doesn't discriminate. It makes me feel connected to all human beings everywhere – our needs for nourishment, for protection, for affection, for validation, for community. I did not like reading about fashionable food circles, about toxic human politics brought onto the table. It feels wrong on a cellular level to poison the one thing that HAS to be wholesome. But I guess we also need air to be clean, our minds to navigate conversations that are enriching (not combative). It makes me surer about not glorifying rage, about the importance of personal responsibility, about gratitude over guilt. This morning, I thought about these things instead of how my hair was sticking to the back of my neck. And the eggs turned out beautifully. After all, all things do well when shown care. 🎶: ISN'T SHE LOVELY: New York Jazz Lounge #theideasmithy

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A Poet & A One-Woman Band

I was a high functioning workaholic in my 20s. It took me to stress health issues, abusive relationships, bad decisions. A frenzied mind does not have room for joy or the capacity to relax. It’s hard to answer the question, Are You Happy?

It’s called workaholism because it is an addiction, an escape. I’ve been trying to disengage my self-worth from my productivity for years since then. It’s not easy because we live in a world where our common definitions of value at every level are based on efficiency, productivity & wealth. Not satisfaction, contentment or health.

When you ask most people about their weekend, they list things they accomplished or checked off. Or  a defiant admission of having slept/drunk/smoked up. How often do you find yourself thinking “I was happy, I smiled a lot, felt very good after a good meal & great sleep”? Those words didn’t cross my lips once in over a decade.

These days I’m seeing a lot of my alter-selves display the same frenzy as we cope with lockdown. There is defiant raging against something called ‘toxic positivity’ which TBH confuses me because how can anything positive be toxic? No, don’t tell me. I don’t have FOMO. If I don’t like something, I exit, switch off, turn away.

I haven’t acquired a new employable skill, notched up an impressive already-read/watched list, baked something pretty. But I have experienced panic, joy, loneliness, relief, irritation, inspiration. After years of boredom & lack of inspiration, I am suddenly feeling. And I’m writing. This is the very stuff of life for me. It doesn’t happen on a plan & the compulsive organiser in me is happy to be taken by surprise. Life is very dull when you know it all.

The next time I step onto a stage will be a celebration. The next time I stand on a beach will be a homecoming. The next time I hug somebody will be ressurrection. The next time I travel by train will be reunion with the city I love. The next time I see some of you, I will get to fall in love again. I can hardly wait. Anticipation isn’t desperation. It lifts me, it doesn’t consume me. I just have to let it happen.

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A POET & A ONE-WOMAN BAND I was a high functioning workaholic in my 20s. It took me to stress health issues, abusive relationships, bad decisions. A frenzied mind does not have room for joy or the capacity to relax. It's hard to answer the question, Are You Happy? It's called workaholism because it is an addiction, an escape. I've been trying to disengage my self-worth from my productivity for years since then. It's not easy because we live in a world where our common definitions of value at every level are based on efficiency, productivity & wealth. Not satisfaction, contentment or health. When you ask most people about their weekend, they list things they accomplished or checked off. Or  a defiant admission of having slept/drunk/smoked up. How often do you find yourself thinking "I was happy, I smiled a lot, felt very good after a good meal & great sleep"? Those words didn't cross my lips once in over a decade. These days I'm seeing a lot of my alter-selves display the same frenzy as we cope with lockdown. There is defiant raging against something called 'toxic positivity' which TBH confuses me because how can anything positive be toxic? No, don't tell me. I don't have FOMO. If I don't like something, I exit, switch off, turn away. I haven't acquired a new employable skill, notched up an impressive already-read/watched list, baked something pretty. But I have experienced panic, joy, loneliness, relief, irritation, inspiration. After years of boredom & lack of inspiration, I am suddenly feeling. And I'm writing. This is the very stuff of life for me. It doesn't happen on a plan & the compulsive organiser in me is happy to be taken by surprise. Life is very dull when you know it all. The next time I step onto a stage will be a celebration. The next time I stand on a beach will be a homecoming. The next time I hug somebody will be ressurrection. The next time I travel by train will be reunion with the city I love. The next time I see some of you, I will get to fall in love again. I can hardly wait. Anticipation isn't desperation. It lifts me, it doesn't consume me. I just have to let it happen. #theideasmithy 🎶: HOMEWARD BOUND: SIMON & GARFUNKEL

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Threadwork Therapy

I picked up the crochet needle today. I began crocheting in 2002 after I heard it was calming. My impatient younger self had been bored by the labor but in 2002 I found something else. I was struggling through something I did not understand, had no support or idea how to get out of – violent abuse. Every moment had confusion, pain, guilt, terror, anger. Crochet gently insisted I pay attention but without taxing my fraught brain. It brought my breathing into rhythm, which I know now is a way to start healing.

I’ve been reading a book about violence. Why, the reactions come flying at me. A friend screamed at me for reading ROOM that I better not come to her when I was sad later. Others say it’s a trigger I should avoid. People have tried to impose limiting stories like ‘Strong Woman’ on me. One person silenced me because ‘it triggered her to know strong women get beaten up’. Advice to avoid triggers comes couched in well-intentioned tones. When I don’t pay heed, people attack with ferocity. Whether ‘triggers’ are a useful idea or not, they’re brandished like weapons. The fuel is always fear.

Why do I read about my traumas? Because it helps me build a narrative I can live with. I don’t like fear; I resist it. It feels alien, unnatural to me. It’s not that I’m never afraid. I have seen & tasted my own blood, swallowed my reactions for fear of escalation. I know that surviving attack means carrying the blame for it. I’ve never been wrong. I also know that the world operates from fear. Every screaming voice is fear. Every cruel act is fear. Every petty slur, nasty barb, silencing act, personal attack, control attempt comes from fear. I know these are not me.

It’s hard to keep a hold on that truth, through universal gaslighting & attempts to control my story. These books, articles, shows take me to dark places in my mind but it is MY mind. I face every aspect of my self, to shape my story fully & powerfully. Fear, you will not have me.

When I focus again, I realise I’ve dropped a stitch and miscounted. But that’s okay because the yarn & needle are firmly in my grasp. It’s my choice to undo or redo. 

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THREADWORK THERAPY I picked up the crochet needle today. I began crocheting in 2002 after I heard it was calming. My impatient younger self had been bored by the labor but in 2002 I found something else. I was struggling through something I did not understand, had no support or idea how to get out of – violent abuse. Every moment had confusion, pain, guilt, terror, anger. Crochet gently insisted I pay attention but without taxing my fraught brain. It brought my breathing into rhythm, which I know now is a way to start healing. I've been reading a book about violence. Why, the reactions come flying at me. A friend screamed at me for reading ROOM that I better not come to her when I was sad later. Others say it's a trigger I should avoid. People have tried to impose limiting stories like 'Strong Woman' on me. One person silenced me because 'it triggered her to know strong women get beaten up'. Advice to avoid triggers comes couched in well-intentioned tones. When I don't pay heed, people attack with ferocity. Whether 'triggers' are a useful idea or not, they're brandished like weapons. The fuel is always fear. Why do I read about my traumas? Because it helps me build a narrative I can live with. I don't like fear; I resist it. It feels alien, unnatural to me. It's not that I'm never afraid. I have seen & tasted my own blood, swallowed my reactions for fear of escalation. I know that surviving attack means carrying the blame for it. I've never been wrong. I also know that the world operates from fear. Every screaming voice is fear. Every cruel act is fear. Every petty slur, nasty barb, silencing act, personal attack, control attempt comes from fear. I know these are not me. It's hard to keep a hold on that truth, through universal gaslighting & attempts to control my story. These books, articles, shows take me to dark places in my mind but it is MY mind. I face every aspect of my self, to shape my story fully & powerfully. Fear, you will not have me. When I focus again, I realise I've dropped a stitch and miscounted. But that's okay because the yarn & needle are firmly in my grasp. It's my choice to undo or redo. 🎶: NAIMA: John Coltrane #theideasmithy

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Sin Addiction

Don’t I look like all the sins you’re going to commit tonight? I felt it too. Because feeling flows through me the way water runs through the planet, within it, over it, above it and into every creature that lives on it. It feels good to dissolve. It feels peaceful to let go and drown in cool darkness. Words like ’empath’ and ‘boundaries’and ‘toxic patterns’ just flow into sound & light and are swallowed up in the darkness that we are.

Who ever told you that the quest for love would be easy? I knew it wasn’t easy, you say, I just didn’t expect it to be so unpredictable. But how could you think it to be otherwise? Love is the subject of most songs and stories and poems told across the human race and since when did we ever entertain each other by being predictable? It’s an act of rebellion to care. Love is an assertion of life.

But I’ll also say, let go when it feels like self-loathing. “It’s not supposed to be so hard” people say when they mean you’re not worth putting in the effort, you are not worth enduring the agony of confusion for. That is not the time to persist, to prove your commitment. All that is, is pouring your precious self into an endless session of validation. Let go of anyone who can’t make time or space or effort for you because the truth is they won’t.

You are married to a tale. You fell in love with stories because they were bigger than you and you liked to find your place inside them. Why try to shrink that story to fit your hands and your imagination? Don’t hold your breath. Don’t hoard your breaths. Don’t get stuck on the ideas you pinned on the pages of your mind, fearing that your self will be lost if you look away. Feel. Feel. Feel. Your story is being created as you live it, not as you imagine it.

Love is a part of it. It always has been and will always be, even if it doesn’t look the way fairytales and romcoms narrate it. It’s not a sin to look. But it is a sin to breathe and not live. 

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SIN ADDICTION Don't I look like all the sins you're going to commit tonight? I felt it too. Because feeling flows through me the way water runs through the planet, within it, over it, above it and into every creature that lives on it. It feels good to dissolve. It feels peaceful to let go and drown in cool darkness. Words like 'empath' and 'boundaries'and 'toxic patterns' just flow into sound & light and are swallowed up in the darkness that we are. Who ever told you that the quest for love would be easy? I knew it wasn't easy, you say, I just didn't expect it to be so unpredictable. But how could you think it to be otherwise? Love is the subject of most songs and stories and poems told across the human race and since when did we ever entertain each other by being predictable? It's an act of rebellion to care. Love is an assertion of life. But I'll also say, let go when it feels like self-loathing. "It's not supposed to be so hard" people say when they mean you're not worth putting in the effort, you are not worth enduring the agony of confusion for. That is not the time to persist, to prove your commitment. All that is, is pouring your precious self into an endless session of validation. Let go of anyone who can't make time or space or effort for you because the truth is they won't. You are married to a tale. You fell in love with stories because they were bigger than you and you liked to find your place inside them. Why try to shrink that story to fit your hands and your imagination? Don't hold your breath. Don't hoard your breaths. Don't get stuck on the ideas you pinned on the pages of your mind, fearing that your self will be lost if you look away. Feel. Feel. Feel. Your story is being created as you live it, not as you imagine it. Love is a part of it. It always has been and will always be, even if it doesn't look the way fairytales and romcoms narrate it. It's not a sin to look. But it is a sin to breathe and not live. 🎶: THIS MASQUERADE – The Carpenters #theideasmithy

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Recuperate

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For the ones dealing with long-buried memories and healing from old wounds.
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It was your smile but it was also the reasons you smiled. Time made a fool of me and it took me awhile to realise I wasn’t one of those reasons. Goodbye, never the kindest of words. You brought it into the realm of cruelty by not even saying it. And I was left, hooked into poisonous questions, holding the word BREAKUP, like a dead baby that no one wanted. I wish you had at least given us a burial.

I have counted the years that passed since, in holes I’ve plugged, papering over cracks of my self esteem with paper planes. They say you’re a new person every seven years. All cells replaced, I’ve been speeding that along. Prising off parts of me that you touched. Hot showers to burn away your fingerprints on my skin, turning wounds into tattoos. I shaped the holes in me into words. I gave them form, let them loose as paper planes.

The wounds that you left on my psyche, on my body, puckered into scars, hidden by tattoos, which carried away the pain & turned into art. The shreds of my self-esteem, I’ve woven into a coat of anger & made you into poetry. For years, I’ve filled in the gaps that you left behind.

So long have I spoken for you in proxy, a ventriloquist talking with a dummy in my head, with your name & face, that when I ran into you recently. (Look at me saying that, like I’d say I ran into a stranger). But you are. You’re shorter than I remember. Leaner. Our conversation is the wake after a funeral, attended only by ghosts.

The paper plane is a philosophy. I’ve lost weight in some places. Gained some. I don’t fit your boxes anymore. You have nothing to do with the ventriloquist’s dummy in my head. You don’t even look like him.

Time, this time an ally, was the decent chap you weren’t. My insides don’t recognise you anymore. The devil has changed his address. Closure can come from a closed door. Or an accidental sighting & no conversation. Hell doesn’t sit here anymore.

You are not home anymore.

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RECUPERATE ————————————————————– For the ones dealing with long-buried memories and healing from old wounds. ————————————————————– It was your smile but it was also the reasons you smiled. Time made a fool of me and it took me awhile to realise I wasn’t one of those reasons. Goodbye, never the kindest of words. You brought it into the realm of cruelty by not even saying it. And I was left, hooked into poisonous questions, holding the word BREAKUP, like a dead baby that no one wanted. I wish you had at least given us a burial. I have counted the years that passed since, in holes I've plugged, papering over cracks of my self esteem with paper planes. They say you're a new person every seven years. All cells replaced, I've been speeding that along. Prising off parts of me that you touched. Hot showers to burn away your fingerprints on my skin, turning wounds into tattoos. I shaped the holes in me into words. I gave them form, let them loose as paper planes. The wounds that you left on my psyche, on my body, puckered into scars, hidden by tattoos, which carried away the pain & turned into art. The shreds of my self-esteem, I’ve woven into a coat of anger & made you into poetry. For years, I’ve filled in the gaps that you left behind. So long have I spoken for you in proxy, a ventriloquist talking with a dummy in my head, with your name & face, that when I ran into you recently. (Look at me saying that, like I’d say I ran into a stranger). But you are. You’re shorter than I remember. Leaner. Our conversation is the wake after a funeral, attended only by ghosts. The paper plane is a philosophy. I’ve lost weight in some places. Gained some. I don’t fit your boxes anymore. You have nothing to do with the ventriloquist’s dummy in my head. You don’t even look like him. Time, this time an ally, was the decent chap you weren’t. My insides don’t recognise you anymore. The devil has changed his address. Closure can come from a closed door. Or an accidental sighting & no conversation. Hell doesn't sit here anymore. You are not home anymore. 🎶: ELEANOR RIGBY: The Beatles #theideasmithy

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Asocial Eater

I have an unusual relationship with food & people. Namely, I don’t like to be around both at the same time.

I’ve thought of myself as ‘not a foodie’ but that’s because food enjoyment is treated as a performance, a social experience, a competitive sport even. Warring over calorie count & portions eaten, spice tolerance games, weird taste contests – not my idea of fun. It’s my idea of anxiety-inducing; it’s appetite killing.

People bring intense feelings to eating. Insecurity, shame, guilt. Why else would someone shame another person about what they put into their bodies? Not just quantity but also the nature of food. Vegetarians forcing religion onto a plate. Vegans pressing murder into fork tines. Meatlovers stomping ridicule into delicate salad leaves. Spice fanatics kicking soups into flurries. Cooks pounding fruits into puree. Food is not love when it’s turned into a lobbying exercise.

I struggle through these painful food interactions because, unfortunately eating is considered a social exercise. I’ve borne labels like ‘problem eater’, ‘fussy’, ‘finicky’. I’m allergic to some foods. Maybe because these are invisible, it is easy to assume that I have no health issues. People are often cruel, showing contempt or ridicule. I can’t ignore this emotional stinginess. It poisons the abundance one must feel to enjoy food. It’s hard to digest hatred even if it is someone else’s self-loathing.

When I eat alone though, I have an acute sense of smell, taste & sight. Why not? I am an artist, a purveyor of all senses. I savour nuance in flavour & aroma that otherwise gets buried in other people’s bully expressions. I like food. I like food stories. I even like people who like food, if they don’t poison their love with emotional deprivation.

Street food gives me an accessible bridge to eating with other people. Most folks do not bring strong feelings to the acts of eating a panipuri or slurping a gola. I think they miss something by not savouring the complex blend of tastes in the first, the satisfying contrast of textures in the second. But I’m happy to enjoy eating. 

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ASOCIAL EATER I have an unusual relationship with food & people. Namely, I don't like to be around both at the same time. I've thought of myself as 'not a foodie' but that's because food enjoyment is treated as a performance, a social experience, a competitive sport even. Warring over calorie count & portions eaten, spice tolerance games, weird taste contests – not my idea of fun. It's my idea of anxiety-inducing; it's appetite killing. People bring intense feelings to eating. Insecurity, shame, guilt. Why else would someone shame another person about what they put into their bodies? Not just quantity but also the nature of food. Vegetarians forcing religion onto a plate. Vegans pressing murder into fork tines. Meatlovers stomping ridicule into delicate salad leaves. Spice fanatics kicking soups into flurries. Cooks pounding fruits into puree. Food is not love when it's turned into a lobbying exercise. I struggle through these painful food interactions because, unfortunately eating is considered a social exercise. I've borne labels like 'problem eater', 'fussy', 'finicky'. I'm allergic to some foods. Maybe because these are invisible, it is easy to assume that I have no health issues. People are often cruel, showing contempt or ridicule. I can't ignore this emotional stinginess. It poisons the abundance one must feel to enjoy food. It's hard to digest hatred even if it is someone else's self-loathing. When I eat alone though, I have an acute sense of smell, taste & sight. Why not? I am an artist, a purveyor of all senses. I savour nuance in flavour & aroma that otherwise gets buried in other people's bully expressions. I like food. I like food stories. I even like people who like food, if they don't poison their love with emotional deprivation. Street food gives me an accessible bridge to eating with other people. Most folks do not bring strong feelings to the acts of eating a panipuri or slurping a gola. I think they miss something by not savouring the complex blend of tastes in the first, the satisfying contrast of textures in the second. But I'm happy to enjoy eating. 📸: @allvishal 🎶: A TASTE OF HONEY: Herb Alpert #theideasmithy

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