The smell of roasted curry leaves and strong spices, wafting through the air ensnared my senses and pulled me out of my slumber-some state. Letting my instincts take their course, I hurriedly padded out of my room while my hands sang the praise of not having to haul my anatomy textbook anymore. The entire household seemed to think on similar grounds, as I was greeted with the view of them putting their newspapers, mobile phones and, tv remotes aside and walking towards the kitchen with the same motto as myself. We found out, soon enough, that mum had made Dhoklas, which is
a) a humble Gujarati snack with the texture of sponge cake and taste of something inexplicably wonderful, and
b) An excuse to remember a legendary dialogue from 3 Idiots “Tum Gujarati Log Itne Cute Hote Ho… Par Tum Log Ka Khana Itna Khatarnak Kyun Hota Hai- Dhokla, Fafda, Handva, Thepla. Aaise Lagta Hai Jaise Koi Missiles Hai…Aaj Bush Ne Iraq Pe Do Dhokle Gira Diye”
Without further ado, we were all sitting at the dining table with a plate of Dhokla, mint chutney and roasted chillies for those who liked that sort of thing, happily munching away. Compliments were offered to the chef, all the while encouragements to ‘have some more’ were trickling into the conversation as well. This scenic moment echoed a quote my grandfather always told me as a child and less frequently as an adult- “A family that eats together, stays together”. Truth be told, I don’t know who came up with this or if it is one of those deceiving half-truths that I last wrote about. What I do understand is the basic sentiment behind it, as evidenced by the picture-perfect moment before me.
Thanks to time constraints and different lifestyles, this kind of gathering was a sight to behold in a family such as ours. My parents, both doctors, had a schedule that stretched far past the usual 9 to 5. My grandparents were the only people who had a normal three square meal plan as they had their routine ways to conform to. I, on the other hand, had the least compliant schedule which mostly clocked late nights, early mornings and untimely naps at ungodly hours. My brother lived in a different state altogether which made his rare appearances more significant and much appreciated. Hence generic phrases such as ‘want of understanding’ and ‘positive interactions’ were quite the theme of WhatsApp messages that circulated in the ‘family group’.
As expected, (ironically) most would blame technology for the lack of communication and the deterioration of interpersonal relationships, all the while conveniently ignoring the lifestyle most of us are inherently adopting in order to keep up with the times. Simply put, the reason I mostly have my dinner in the comforts of my room at 7 PM while enjoying the thrilling escapades of Vikings has more to do with the fact that I have an upcoming test on neural physiology and an impromptu submission of an assignment on the oral epithelium the next day than my general accessibility to Netflix; Ita Vero, I’m a night owl. (What’s that I hear, oh yes, it’s the collective ‘amen’ from millennials and gen Z-ers!). The deadlines that we deal with on a daily basis have become the yardstick to measure our general progress in almost every aspect of our lives, failing which will probably result in a cascade of petty disapprovals, undeniable setbacks and unexplainable awkwardness in those spheres. Most of the times, it’s barely about conquering and mostly about surviving through the day, leaving very little time for anything else let alone anyone.
Finishing my last Dhokla I looked around to see that nearly everyone was done as well and were now lost in a heated debate over the upcoming elections. Taking that as my cue, I thanked my mother for the delectable snack and scuttled to my room to capture this moment in the only way that I knew I was capable of.