Exploits of a travel writer on the run. Subject: India

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Comfort Food for the Soul

Promises Promises-- I will resume the chronological narrative tomorrow-- today, I'm feeling a little sorry for myself, so please indulge me in this week's edition of Tim's Travel Corner. You can all collect your five cents when you see me next-- just remind me to pay you.

The thing that I have become most attuned to while traveling India is what it takes to make me feel normal and happy in a paradigm-shifted reality. When India's brutal realities finally permeate that aforementioned protective shell I have constructed, I have to take a break from it somehow, and there's not always a beach or remote town in which to retreat. It ends up being small things that make the difference between sanity and less-than-sanity: sometimes it means watching an English-speaking movie, (uh, any English speaking movie. I actually shed a tear after watching the joyful happy ending of "Around the World in Eighty Days" with Jackie Chan. Perhaps it was because they had made it back home, or something. Anyway, I obviously needed to have my buttons pushed) sometimes it means camping out at the Internet Cafe for two or three hours (I do this every chance I get), sometimes finding a good cup of Cappucino at Coffee Day or Barista (yep, evil chain stores), sometimes anything with air-conditioning will do. Some times, a twelve-hour sleep with make the world a crisper, happier place. Most of the time, a western meal will do me right. And it's usually junk food.

When I got here, I had a hard time eating well because everything happened a little later than I was used to-- breakfast gets started around 10, lunch at 1 or 2, dinner at 8 or 9; breakfasts were rather light if at all, and I was skipping meals left and right-- I still haven't gotten used to eating a massive masala dhosa for breakfast, as much as I'd like to. Throw in blistering heat and humidity, and walking at least 10 km a day, and it equals a ten pound weight loss in my first ten days. And,despite the schooling I have gotten in spicy cuisines and their equally important digestive aids, sometime the intensity of the food still rocks my system. So you gotta go with what you know in those times of need, and for me, I needs mayonnaise.

It's not easy to come by around here, and I know that some of you find it disgusting, but for me, that little condiment is a tangible taste of creamy heaven. Glorious Mayo in all it's forms-- in an egg-salad sandwich (be still my fluttering heart), or better yet, a potato salad sandwich; even Mr M by his lonesome on a spoon (ok, that's just comedy) totally replenishes my constitution on a cellular level, and brings harmony to the plasma bag known as Tim. Good ol' Mayo, I hope you forgive me-- I slap you on without a second thought in the states, perhaps I even eschew you altogether, but here, you are as revered as the Holy Cow to me.

Ok, maybe I have gone insane. But I have to admit mayonnaise helps. When I haven't had access to fresh leafy greens in what seems forever, I just have to turn to my animal nature. Just for a prison fantasy scenario, I'll let you in on fantasy first meal upon arrive to the US: A big-ass bowl of spinach and romaine lettuce with fresh tomatoes, avocados, grated carrots and (oh yes!) alfalfa sprouts. With some oil and vinegar type of dressing. Maybe some fresh baked bread. Gosh, I'm getting hungry. I should probably end this soon and go wolf down a Thali somewhere here in Ernakulum.

I have to add that it raises my spirits when I log in to this blog and read encouraging comments from my friends or get an email or two telling me to keep it up. It turns out that this very activity has been a lifeline to home, and I think that accounts for my intense output since I've been here. Writing for myself is one thing, but writing for you, my loved ones and intentional family members, has been a total joy. Bwahhh!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

hang in there, champ (insert photo of kitten hanging upside-down from a tree branch). remember, when you're back here (USA), you'll miss india like you miss mayo now (mmm, Miss Mayo...)


p.s. i finally got online and found out how to use the Feedbacker for "feedback" (i.e. HOLD DOWN the pedal!).

December 8, 2004 at 11:56 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking the hit for the team, Tim. Every epic has moments of unyielding drudgery and seemingly endless irritation, but your words, even those of sickness for lack of tangy, sweet mayo, render colorless the already drab palette of the great American unhappening. It is so wonderful to see India through your eyes; particularly since your prose are so inviting, so informative and so very witty. This is a great thing your are doing for all of us. As I would love a masala dhosa for Breakfast and have none, for you I will eat a bologna sandwich in the morning: one slice of Oscar Meyer painted yellow and white between two pieces of wonder bread. We love you. -Jim

December 10, 2004 at 8:14 PM

Blogger tank said...

Hey, just passing through...found your blog while killing some time. Just wanted to let you know that I thought it was great reading, and I hope all goes well in your future travels.

December 10, 2004 at 8:58 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i just spent a saturday morning eating potato egg and cheese tacos, drinking french press paste and reading your posts.
its so good. i feel like i've done something constructive and i feel like i am a better person for being your friend.


December 11, 2004 at 8:17 AM


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