Early this Summer, I picked up a book on Partition only because I was browsing through stuff online and I realised that I know so little and now have so much time at hand. I’ve always had fat, dusty books at home with black and white photos of Gandhi and Nehru but it always felt like I had some growing up to do, to fully do justice to all those pages. I still think I do, so I picked one that told the story of probably the biggest migration the subcontinent ever saw in the 20th Century, through food.
Cut scene to today and it’s almost surreal to see what unfolded post that. Spending three months in Dhaka for work, wading through their historical context, understanding the formation of their institutions, being surrounded by people bursting into giggles each time we found similarities (which was quite often!) and yet waiting for hours at Immigration lines to very recently sitting at a table with strangers for a curated meal in South Bombay to explore the culinary tapestry of the Punjab Province (Punjab 1947) unsettled me in surprising ways. The stories these borders hold, the narratives they build and the identities they create is a maze I’m slowly inching towards, suddenly feeling it in my bones.
And what better way to enter that maze than a belly full of food and a heart full of love and respect for the many hands that created it all! And so, with a few hours to spare before I boarded my flight back to India, I was fortunate to experience a beautiful spread of Bengal’s finest at Paturi, with dear friends. From Shorshe Ilish, to Bhekti and Chingri Paturi, to Bhorta Platters, to a surprisingly yummy bowl of Labra to of course platefuls of rice and Luchi to wipe it all off. And yes, Mishti Doi always settles into a separate compartment, so no sweat there.
Back home and I find it funny to feel a bit of nostalgia, almost pining to go back soon. On a bus ride, after a long day of work a friend introduced me to this song, roughly translating to “traveller”.
Bhoboghuray. Enough said 🙂