I dream about Bombay, a city, an idea and an emotion that transcends time and place and pervades my consciousness at the slightest inclination, the sound of a car horn, salty air, a flock of pigeons, black and yellow taxis, cows.
I can hardly describe in words the complexity of emotion I feel for this maximum city, which is the reason I cook: it is in the kitchen that I am able to weave the spell that conjures home in the fragrance of spices roasting and the sound of onions frying and the taste, that taste, of a Bombay curry.
Going home has been a long journey for me, longer since my grandmother died in 2013 for it has meant returning to a place the past inhabits less and less. But more important in a way, this return, an acknowledgement of the importance of migration in reverse.
The concept has grown on me slowly, the realisation that life’s journey does not always propel you forward. It has been more than a third of a century since my family immigrated, for better life and economic wealth and safer future. You work hard and prosper, and feel less as time has passed the loss of that left behind. And then suddenly one day this loss finds you in a moment of weakness, and won’t let you go.
My journey to Bombay, from west to east, is no mere whimsy. It’s about the recognition that I need to go home to learn, that India has so much more to teach me. The culinary and medical knowledge, handed down in kitchens from generation to generation, the use of spices and sacred dietary practices, the grace, wisdom, resilience and tenacity of a people and culture thousands of years old.
The late columnist AA Gill once wrote:
“India is a poor place, but only in economic terms. On any other scale you care to think of, it’s rich beyond the dreams of avarice. Any fool country can have democracy and freedom of speech and a rudimentary social security system when they’ve got the cash, but to achieve these things when you don’t is humbling. India is that most miraculous of modern states, a secular, democratic theocracy. And if we measure wealth in terms of any of the things that really matter – family, spirituality, manners, inquisitiveness, inventiveness, dexterity, culture, history and food – then India would be hosting the next G7 conference and sending charity workers to California.”
It was the most incredible privilege to bring our first group of Bombay Dreamers to India for a week for an immersion into Indian culture. This special group of kindred spirits absorbed every small atom of the city. From their awe-inspiring trip to Dharavi Slum to an early morning visit to Sassoon Docks and the flower markets, we enjoyed infinite opportunities to learn not just about, but from our journey east. As a group of like minded women, we also learned a little more about ourselves, and each other.
Watch this space for more on our Bombay adventure, enjoy the photos of our tour and contact us if you want to put your name on the waiting list for our next venture ‘home’ in November 2018.