It comes as a surprise even to me but all the memories I have of the glorious years at The Mother’s International School start with food.
In the beginning of the winter, the Ashram would harvest fresh carrots and radishes. These would be sold at recess, sliced through along their length and then seasoned with a generous hand – salt, pepper and lemon. I can still taste it. And I’m stuck. Because come the winter – and in Mumbai where I live it’s more a calendar event than a weather change – I crave those radishes. Thin as a finger and so tasty that the memory is as clear as day on this side of twenty-five years since I last ate one of these.
The other memory is of the kulche-chholey lunches, the only truly free lunch we have ever had. For some reason the Ashram chaps would sell you two kulchas for a pittance. You take these in their little ‘dona’ to the other queue and get a dona full of the most delicious chholey I’ve ever eaten.
But it was never that simple. Because what you were really trying to do was to avoid getting any chholey stains on the kulchas. So you could go back into the queue for a second – illegal – helping of the chholey. And often, after you’d made your little adventure, a friend or two would borrow the kulchas for thirds and fourths as well. What fun! And so tasty too!
In hindsight it beggars belief that the Ashram chaps didn‘t cotton on to this little scheme of ours. More people were getting seconds than their rightful single helping. And that single helping was far from miserly too. But those sweet souls would smile at you, handing out a never-ending ladle full of food.
But these are just two glimpes, no? The food at the Aurobindo Ashram and The Mother’s International School is a startlingly clear memory. From the cakes and confections at the Ashram shop to the food in the canteen at recess – I remember tastes, moments and textures and the delight. And that’s food for thought!
EOM EOM EOM