As most of my friends know I am not much of a foodie, but I do like to eat. We are given 3 square meals a day and afternoon tea with a small snack. This is more food than I would normally eat, but being that I am a dancer now I am starving at every meal. The food at breakfast consists of cereal, either choco puffs or cornflakes, eggs- hard boiled or omelet, bread- toasted or plain with mixed fruit jelly, and tea. This is the same every morning and we have not had a traditional Indian breakfast yet. I would like to see what it is since I am not a traditional American breakfast kind of person. Lunch is the spiciest meal of the day and usually has the most variety. There is always chapatti or roti, flat breads that are to be eaten with the vegetable dish. There is also white rice with peas and pomegranate and a soup, which you are supposed to eat with the rice. Then there are corn chips and fried spicy flatbreads too. Dinner is a little less spicy, but it still burns the mouth! There is a type of fried rice at dinner and a vegetable (Indian term is sabzi) and more flatbreads that are either fried or cooked right over gas.
Basically the food at the palace is cooked for our safety. Bapa worries that we will get sick and has slowly introduced different meals to us, as our stomachs grow used to this environment.
So far, no one has gotten very sick and only mild stomach- aches have occurred. The problem with the food is that, for most of us, it is too spicy and a little monotonous. When I visited Surendranagar last week and had lunch outside of the palace it tasted a little like heaven because it was from a different cook. Anytime I am invited to eat somewhere else I take the chance just to see the different styles and tastes. My dance instructor has invited me for Indian Chinese food and I cannot wait to taste it. Will inform everyone about it when it happens.
We got ice cream cake the other night and everyone went a little crazy and we downed 4 small cakes between the 12 of us, it was fantastic. It’s so funny how the little things are so great here. Life is so much simpler and moves slowly. Time is not of the essence but enjoying the situation you are in is. They believe that food is even predestined. Their philosophy is that every grain has someone’s name on it and if you buy 2 samosas at the market and someone sits next to you and wants it then it was meant for them to have it. They believe in sharing food and that one should not eat alone. If there is someone sitting next to you on a bus and you are eating, then you share what you have with the stranger and no one will want for anything.
These philosophies sound great in theory, but really this nation has many starving people and animals and there are so many that need to eat but have no way of getting it. Karma is supposed to have a lot to do with the reasons why some have a lot and others have nothing, but from a western point of view it is truly hard to understand why it is someone’s past life that governs their poverty. Someone is born into a particular caste and that means they were not good in another life and therefore they have to live in slums, have no education, and they should be looked at as untouchable. It baffles my mind! Sorry, so far from the food topic, but here I am complaining about how the food is too spicy and boring while I ride past people starving in alleys and they are completely malnourished. Apparently this is one of the richest areas in India, but it doesn’t seem that way and I can’t imagine what other places look like. The slums here are just tarps covering up mats on the ground and the goats and cows live among them too. The children chase you down the street begging for money and pinching you to get your attention. It’s hard to ignore them but we are also told not to give them money since it will perpetuate the behavior. Bapa told us to have candy to give to the children instead so we have little stashes just in case. Life here is so different from anything I have ever seen and as beautiful as it is there are a lot of ideals and customs that are hard to understand.