Thursday, October 1, 2009

Reincarnation: Traveling with “Masala Chai” and “Maggi Noodles”

Some of you know that I got accepted, at a writers' residency program, in New England. I am going away for two weeks. My husband teases me every time we talk about the opportunity and calls it my "vacation." Hello, not worrying about work deadlines or cleaning for two weeks or guiltlessly drinking wine mid-week or writing endlessly doesn't qualify this defined period of time as “vacation.” Or maybe it does. We’ll find out!

I am looking forward to the residency. I have to say I was a little skeptical about taking two weeks off from work and life in NYC. But my husband very generously said, “You deserve this break more than anyone else I know.” For once, the planetary arrangements worked in my favor and I was able to make this commitment.

Anyways, he thinks by Sunday of this week I will be whining: “I want to go home.” I wouldn't be surprised if my dad and brother along with my husband have placed dibs on the Sweta-missing- home-deadline:-) Well, they all know me too well. Firstly, I loathe bucolic life. No kidding. The peace and quiet makes me nauseous. If you want to scare me, say “Hills.” I have never been able to appreciate houses, for more than a weekend, on five acres of land and no passer bys. Secondly, I am a homebody who is rather resistant to change. I need my family, friends, and wine, and I am all set.

And traveling has its own challenges. I spent last afternoon exchanging emails with my friends and asking them about travel essentials. See, I am flying to New England, which means I have to obey airline weight restrictions - twenty pounds (I believe). That's what I am allowed or at least that’s the weight my back can endure. As a kid, my brother lugged my luggage (I just opened a can of worms here. Let’s not even get into what all I would travel with as a child) and as an adult, my husband does the good deed. In fact, when we travel together, the forty pound weight limit is distributed rather intelligently: I use up 35 lbs and he happily makes do with 5 lbs. I know, “happily” is over-rated, but he’s smart enough to know that a “Happy wife” is the key to every successful marriage. :-)

I digress; back to packing. So, according to my friends, boots fall under "high-priority" essentials. I concur with them. Ask any woman. Okay, any woman with good (or even remote) fashion sense. Fine. Ask any of my girlfriends, and I swear they will tell you that life, for a woman, is barren without knee-length boots. The whole point of autumn is to bring out the hidden fashionista in you. Boots, scarves, good hair days etc. All in all, sweet! Sure, the winter lurking around the corners is not an attraction, but who cares when you can strut yourself in shoes that hug tightly around your calves and ankles and arm your hands with steaming cappuccino. The magic of autumn. So, last night, my boots found a home in those 20 lbs.

Now those wardrobe essentials are taken care of, onto food. Until a few years ago, I could eat every meal out. In fact, I would look forward to it, but with age, I have started appreciating home cooked meals. I still LOVE to eat out (I am a foodie!), but with the desire of trying out a new place or cuisine and not because there is no food at home. A confession: I need Asian food once a week, at least. Not Indian, anything Asian would do (especially Thai & Chinese). My palate goes into withdrawal-symptom-mode otherwise.

I don’t know much about the place I am traveling to—in terms of “grocery” availability, which would have been immaterial a few years ago. I would have happily gorged onto local goodies and eaten every meal at a restaurant. But when my friend asked last afternoon if I had packed any “soul food,” I got thinking. I totally bought her suggestion of carrying some comfort food with me – “Maggi noodles,” “Knorr desi soups,” and “Murku.” Funnily, these items will never be found in my pantry, but I bought them because I know they will make me less homesick. I have been a boarder majority of my life, and I know the magic items.

Growing up, I wondered about people who traveled with food. My husband and brother have constantly made fun of the “Food-travelers-with-dabbas.” But today, I am one of them. I’d never imagined turning into one, but I have. People change and age is a change enabler. With age, we all need things that soothe our soul. So, instead of getting my nails done after work and grabbing a nice meal with my husband at a restaurant last night, I bought chicken biryani for lunch (I am quite indifferent to lunch otherwise); drank “masala chai” at a very dear friend’s place after work; and, cooked a lavish dinner at home (tons of food for my husband when I am away).

So, please send me your good wishes and aashirwaad and love, so I can put these two weeks to good use along with the”Masala chai” sachets I am carrying with me. And I’ll remember to not snicker at the smell of “theplaas” at airports.

More until next time.


Copyright © 10.01.2009

"We live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities" - Oscar Wilde


Sam said...

I'm sure it'll be awesome and you'll do great. Can't wait to hear and read about it. Maybe over some more masala chai.
xxx Sam

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! And have fun with the "dabbas" and the "masala chai"! :)

M said...

Hey, all the best! Have tons of fun and keep in touch.

S said...

U will be just fine! Once a boarder, your survival instincts kick in no time! All the best & enjoy ur time away doing something u truly love!

Bijay Chandra said...

Wish you best of luck to this God given opportunity.I am afraid that the detailing of the pre-travel preparations are,in fact,a way to release of tensions for the days ahead.
Enjoy every moment and make best use of this new experience to sharpen your talents and wits,further.