Hola people! I have just completed a revolution around the sun with this weekly column of mine. And so have all of you who have read, shared, liked, and discussed almost fifty blogs that I have churned out in this time. Charmaine, this couldn’t have happened without you. The freedom that your platform gives me to express myself, is precious and rare.

This post has all the potential to become a never ending thank you note. But I shall resist the urge and instead tell you something that truly warmed my heart this week.

This week was supposed to be a holiday for Chinese New Year. The warmth and the cheer of the city was marred by the news of Corona virus (Wuhan Virus) in the neighbourhood. That just made the grey clouds look even more ominous. Staying indoors seemed safer but depressing nonetheless. So, I cooked. I’ve realised that cooking keeps my hands busy and stills my mind.

My spirits rose with the aromas of my childhood. I love paranthas and made quite a few of them. Happy with the outcome I did the next logical thing. I clicked pictures (eating can wait). I was eager to upload them on a Facebook group that I am part of. Here the members post pics of food they’ve made/ ordered and sometimes share recipes too.

Now I’m not much of a foodie. Neither do I relish cooking much. I can cook to survive but love to experiment. And yet I am a very active member on that group, if I may say so myself. Why? You may ask. Because I love the conversations around food, even the online ones. It cheers me up any time.

As I happily devoured the fruit of my labour, there was one particular picture that seemed to be getting more attention than its peers- the humble jaggery parantha. It went beyond the usual ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ as I found myself drawn into conversations about childhood memories associated with it, the taste of mum’s food and the legends that naanis and daadis are made of. I learnt what it is called in my own dialect (pardon my ignorance)

What’s more, quite a few went ahead and made it and shared their pics. So, we had photographic evidence coming in from Hyderabad to Canada, from US to Nagpur, from Kolkata to Mumbai. These are all my online friends, some I have met now, many I still haven’t (but hope to). I don’t want to get into the religious diversity of this population, but you get the drift. Sitting so far away from all of them, their pics and words reached out to me. It warmed the cockles of my heart to see how a humble food dish could bring us together.

It gave me the hope I was looking for. Our roots run deeper than the holes anyone can drill. They may try to divide us; we’ll find reasons to be together. For now, if it’s a jaggery parantha, then so be it.

On that note, wishing you all a happy republic that deserves a saner population. Thank you again for staying with me through the year. Keep showering your love. Here’s to Saturdays and the conversations it promises.

PS: As I finish writing this, a similar conversation is going on about aluwadi, a Maharashtrian delicacy, that goes by different names with slight variations across the country. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to hop off to join the conversation.

Dr. Shivani Salil


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