I'm sitting on the periphery of my kitchen watching a pot of channa masala bubble on the stove, scared to touch it lest it becomes any worse. This is the only Indian dish I know how to make without a recipe book, and now that my family dinner is looking pretty weak, I might have to take it off the short list (pasta, omelette, grilled cheese).
And then I start wondering (because it has rained for four days and what else can you do?) if this is the channa masala metaphor of my life. By my age my mom was seeing suitors, taking care of her sister's children, and making several much more elaborate dishes by hand. Now she can feed an army (seriously...and if it's a family of four, the same amount of food will be made) in such a way that every heaping teaspoon of turmeric or coriander seed is perfect down to the grain. And even if she's a fellow vegetarian, her chicken biryani rivals the pit stops in Charminar.
Not that I want to feed the troops. Or get married by 23, or cook any more than my future husband will.
But is this diluted version of the delectable favorite a sign that my generation is destined to be just as watered down with culture? If my Hindi is, excuse me for this, "ghetto", will my kids be pronouncing their own names wrong? And while I can recite a few mantras and do pooja, my grandfather can recite scriptures for four hours without glancing down at a book.
This is what happens when it rains, and remains grey and the clouds are so burdened they almost touchdown to the river -- you hypothesize and dramatize all sorts of worldly things that are so irrelevant in Tarpon Springs.
In just a few weeks I'll be strapping on my Tevas and backpack and coursing through villages in North India without internet, cell phone or shaved legs. I will grow vegetables, treat sick children and touch the soil of villages my parents haven't even heard of before. And then, maybe, I will tell you, whether the channa masala metaphor stands.