What would RTH do?

That is the question.

If I were in a highschool yearbook, they would vote me most likely to die of a lynch mob. That does not prevent me from opening my mouth and serving a warm hearty cup of STFU to people who deserve it. My dark scathing humor will leave no matter of existence untouched. My innocence will touch your soul.

Welcome to a warped world turned inside out and upside down. All sorts of discretion advised.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

God in Every Bite

This post is a follow up to my previous post on Ramadan and fasting.

 It is restaurant week. That means that for a whole week you can go to select upscale restaurants in town and enjoy a fancy three course meal for just $25.00. On Tuesday I had a French bean salad with blue cheese and toasted pecans, followed by a Madras curry garbanzo patty with three dipping sauces followed by a rich and decadent black forest cake laden with gooey goodness of cherry compote. Tomorrow, we go to another fine restaurant and I'm torn on what to choose for my appetizer, entree and desert. You can probably see clearly why fasting is such a far cry for me at this time and why I find it ridiculous.

There you have it, I'm a foodie. I love food. But that is not all that is there to it. It is not just food. There is more to it, a whole lot more to it. Food is not just food. Food is beautiful. Food is love. Food is God. My uncle once joked that our family deity is the potato. Indeed every member in my family has a certain fondness for potato. Each has their favorite preparation. I like fries and a crispy Indian spiced stir fry we make. My sister likes the fasting preparation spiced with turmeric. My dad likes almost everything with potato that is cardiac arrest on a platter. My grandfather loved potato vadas, a battered and fried preparation that you eat between buns like a burger. But he didn't care for the bun, he loved them hot and piping just like that. He also loved them in an oddly flattened shape.

See food is not just food. Food is family. Food is memories. Food is the cherished thread connecting life. It is how I connect to my grandfather who is no longer with us. I recollect his fondness for potatoes. He also had an affinity for coffee. The most vivid and brightest memory of him is him sitting at his desk every morning tinkering with something and asking grandma to bring him his cup of coffee. Fish was another of his favorite food and I think perhaps he might have enjoyed Friday night Fish fries.

Food encompasses the life, the universe and everything in between. It is food that connects me to the life I have lived bringing every memory, every person alive. Food is grandparents stocking the refrigerator with my favorite soda Gold Spot every time I visited and providing plenty of sugar rush. Food is my neighbor driving around town and treating me at Foo Yong my favorite Chinese restaurant. Food is what my mom serves us that is uncannily delicious and amazing each and every time. Food is tea and glucose biscuits we had at five AM before morning hockey practice when we were away from tour. Food is all the junk food that you can eat on the streets of India. Food is the massive spread of delicacies at family get gatherings when we get together to celebrate Diwali, Thanksgiving or just get together for the sake of it. Food is summer vacation with the family eating chilli pork at Gaylin or masala dosas as big as your head in Puttur or the gadbad icecream at Udipi's Diana or just a gang of noisy cousins sitting at the table making an ordinary meal extraordinary. Food is having a vegetarian Muslim friend and the silly friend who calls fried rice, fried ice. Food is my sister and me experimenting in the kitchen pretending we are great chefs.

Perhaps I am the only person who feels this way in the whole world, but eating a bite of food is not just eating a bite of food. To me there is God in every bit. Every bite is a life experience that connects me to the universe. Every bite of food means something richer and deeper. It is a memory being created or a life lesson being learned.

I remember my very first piece of filet mignon. It was in Brazil at a real Brazilian churrasco. I was hungry and waiting for a piece of chicken or sausage. Finally I caved and decided to eat a piece of steak. My tongue still salivates a bit at the memory of that piece of meat touching my tongue. I can literally feel the buttery piece just melting in my mouth in an explosion of flavor I had never experienced before. It was truly divine. But there is so much more to that bite than just the flavor and the party in my mouth. It encompasses my life voyage of a teenager who crossed the seven seas never eating a piece of beef in a life and my adventures in slowly opening myself to new experiences till finally at the age of thirty I ate the first piece of steak I really loved. I was surrounded by friends who were in awe of me having never eaten filet mignon before. Tied to that moment are all my experiences in Brazil. That is how the memory thread of life works. That is why giving up food never makes sense. I feel gratitude, humility, love and a great many beautiful things with simple experiences such as this that no temple, shrine, ritual or fast can offer. These are the memories that make me feel so blessed, honored and happy for everything that I have that every other religious prescription that I have pales in comparison.

But it would be unfair to encompass everything in life to food only. Our taste buds are only one of the senses we are gifted with. We have been blessed with sight, scent, hearing and touch and placed in a world with a plethora of sensory experiences. Food is just my sensory gateway to the world. Life and every moment of it is just one large delicious delicacy to be tasted, appreciated and devoured by our senses. I don't know where denial, temperance and all sorts of restraint came from and what sort of convulted pig headed logic was behind it. There is in fact something truly ethereal and pure in the sensual pleasures of life.

Our senses and reveling in their delights just get a bad reputation. Binding the pleasure of the senses to sin could only be the work of a perverted mind, because in reality experiencing the pleasure of the senses is the most innocent and honest thing in life.

Think of the rainfall. There is nothing like the beautiful rich scent of the earth as it soaks in all the rain. Music is made in the pitter patter of the droplets on the rooftops. Even the rumbling of dark clouds and the booming clap add to the orchestra. The world through a curtain of rainfall is quite a sight to see. Everything just seems so stunningly beautiful. Ordinary trees become majestic creatures, dusty window panes become works of art and the whole world is alive like it never was before. Walking in the rain is one of the must have experiences in life. Umbrellas, raincoats are unnecessary inconveniences. Rainwater just washes away all worries and leaves you feeling fresh and rejuvenated. The drip of raindrops on your head, the slow trickle of rain snaking down your skin, the matted hair sticking to your forehead, the wet shirt hugging your body, the slushy puddle forming in your shoe. Every experience of rain on skin is a delightful sensation. And then you open your mouth and catch raindrops with your tongue, the taste of sweet, fresh pure water. It does not matter if the experience of rain is the laughter of kids splashing in the rain or an erotic sensation of the rain both arousing and quenching desires - there is still innocence and beauty to it. It is an experience that makes you realize how wonderful the world is and what a delightful gift life is. It makes me feel one with the universe.

I've never felt a God consciousness, a divine spark, or whatever magical thing religious people feel through any traditional ritual activity. However, the sensual experience of life just leaves me in awe. It makes me feel connected with the universe every moment. Every moment I am grateful and happy to be alive, to be experiencing what I am. Every moment I am in touch with my faith, the force that runs through the universe. I feel it when I walk in the rain. I feel it when I walk on fresh cut grass. I feel it when I breath in the fresh scent of spring. I feel it when I my cat sleeps in the small of my back. I feel it when puppy dogs give you slobbery wet kisses. I feel it when I hug the people I love. I feel it when I curl into bed bone tired from the day. And it is not just in the pleasures, I feel it in the pain as well. I feel it in the bitter cold when my fingertips and toes hurt like bitch. It makes me marvel about human adaptability and coping with pain. I feel it when my mangle my knee and deny the doctor's pain killers. It makes me feel the force surging in me boosting my pain treshold.

Strangely, the one thing that really comes close to explaining the way I experience life is Eric Liddell. His final run in Chariots of Fire just spoke to me. I'm a heathen and Eric was a devout Christian, but I could relate to and understand his final run. He says "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure." It truly explains how I find God in every bite of life. I believe that every life was made for a purpose. We were given our senses and intellect to experience and explore the world. And when I savor every bite of life, I feel God's pleasure (the force).  

I truly believe the meaning of life is being true to ourselves. Being ourselves and living our lives on our terms, how we truly believe we are meant to live. My purpose is the inquisitive explorer, the hedonistic philosopher who approaches every moment with intriguing curiosity and soaks in pleasure from every sensory experience. That is how I fulfill my purpose and experience God's pleasure (the force) in every bite of life. That is what makes a heathen like me be fulfilled. For Eric Liddell it was running, I think Sheldon Cooper finds it in his lab and Xena found it kicking warlord butts. Whether it is prayer, fasting or rituals, I do hope whatever path people choose they find their true purpose and experience God's pleasure.

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