Home Is Where The Food Is

After a 3-year study stint in India, I thought I was done with all that jazz. I nestled back into my comfy cosy spot at home, Colombo, Sri Lanka, surrounded by my beautiful friends, a great job that paid me to do what I love, and a man I’d unexpectedly fallen in love with and married. But then BAM, a letter came in the mail, calling me to Hogwarts JNU, a great university — the catch was, it was miles and miles away, back in New Delhi, India. The city was calling me back and I could not refuse.

The first two months here were hell. My subconscious was still sulking deeply about being far from my awesome life back home, I was in the classroom but my head was still looking down at the green carpet that was Sri Lanka from the aeroplane, and also long-distance-ing with the guy for two months was more challenging than I thought it would be. I was tired and I was lonely and I rushed back home screaming and flailing after just 60 days for a short holiday. It was the most blissful one week of my whole year. I literally savoured every conversation and every meal, like someone who’d just been handed a gourmet meal after years of prison.

It puzzled me though — I asked myself, had I really gone that soft? Was it my age – was living away from my folks and my Colombo beaches so hard that I couldn’t just man up and focus on this kickass opportunity that had fallen in my lap, my dream degree?

I flew back to Delhi a little conflicted and apprehensive. Was I going to be miserable again? Am I living a shitty chick flick where the girl pursues her dream career but then halfway realizes her happiness is actually back home – cue super inconvenient life-changing epiphany?

THE ANSWER IS THANKFULLY: NO.

I had another epiphany instead: Sri Lankan spices = life.

Sure, back when I was doing my Bachelors degree abroad, I somehow managed to survive on a steady diet of cornflakes, McDonalds burgers, the occasional half-assed home-made plate of ‘everything lazily thrown together in the pot’. But I’m older now and my stomach, it seems, has become much, much more demanding. As a last minute thought, my sweet, sweet mother – bless her soul – filled my luggage with a bunch of Sri Lankan spices, freshly ground-up in the house of some beloved Sri Lankan aunty.

Very innocently, after arriving in Delhi, I bought some chicken, put it in a pan, and blindly tossed in 1 teaspoon of every spice my mother had packed for me, and closed the lid. What I smelled and saw when I opened the lid was PURE MAGIC. It was mouth-wateringly delicious. I was suddenly my favourite chef, thanks to the magical spices in my bag. Mother darling had also packed me an obscene number of packets of Sri Lankan coconut milk powder — also magical. (Mum-in-law added a block of amazing Dodol, to hit the spot right after dinner.)

The point of this ridiculous tale is that — no, I wasn’t down in the dumps here in India because I was having an existential crisis, I missed my friends and my family, I longed for the clean, beautiful roads and the smiling people of Colombo, I missed the lap of the evening tide on my toes — no, the root of my profound misery was my lack of Lankan cooking ingredients.

It’s been a week now and I’m a new woman. I love Colombo but I feel great here too. Delhi is my oyster. All thanks to Sri Lankan chicken curry. It’s ridiculous. Imagine what will happen next week when I make Parippu.

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