Well, I went, I saw, I ate. India was great.
I learned a lot and not just about food. There is nothing like immersion learning…experience… to help you understand something in a deeper, more complex and richer way. Even if it is already something you know about. Sure, I’ve eaten plenty of Indian food, but now I don’t just know what it generally tastes like, I know when it’s really good. I can discern between good Indian food and Indian food I don’t like even if it’s made well.
My most favorite food experience in India was at the Chaat shop. I can now say, with some authority, that I know what Pani Puri should and should not taste like. I can also say, with slightly more authority than when I left, that I have a better grasp of what is cultural and what is personal when it comes to my Indian friends. I have a larger sample set now. What surprised me the most were two things. One, how very wrong and culture-centric some of my judgments about JJ were. Two, how much more comfortable I feel in my own skin. S and I had a lovely conversation about the value of experience the other day, which reminded me why I needed to get back into my kitchen:
S: I am sure you have had lots of experiences but you cant use the experience card every time someone disagrees with you or has a different view or just cant understand you
me: I don’t know….we disagreed on the issue of telling someone what they want to hear and then just walking away…but once I had the experience of actually seeing why that was an important social skill in India I agreed with you.
It does go both ways… and a lot of relationships questions are about experience, because it is often a qualitative subject, not always a quantitative one
S: yes, that’s true
me: maybe I shouldn’t tell you this, but I think we have been friends long enough now, if you knew how often I talk to you at your level rather than mine you might be surprised. I don’t mean this in a way that is derogatory to you at all, but I hold back often because I think you won’t understand what I am saying and will misinterpret me. So, I think, consequently, I sound very frustrated much of the time
S: Yes, better to not say when a point cant be gotten across without being misinterpreted right? I understand….Anyways, what do you mean to talk at my level?
me: maybe someday you will want to sit in on a conversation with SM and I or with T or L and I then you will know what I mean…I mean, I don’t think you’re dumb, I think you will be able to SEE what I mean
S: The way I see it, we have different experiences and backgrounds and we kinda speak different languages(of experiences and backgrounds). I see it as language translation than level dumbing down
me: yes, that is true. It’s just hard to teach that language without having access to what you are referencing. If I say “blue” and cannot show you what blue is and do not know your word for blue how will we understand each other ? that’s why I thought it came out poorly, by the way. As I said, I didn’t mean to imply that it is you that are dumb
S: I know that 🙂 I am not offended at all. I am just trying to understand what you said better
me: I mean that the level at which you have to discuss things is more simplistic when you have to start from the basics and have no common ground as with the “blue” example. “blue” is an experience and trying to explain it to someone else when you have no shared “blue” experience to reference is simplistic and very difficult. Once you both have that experience then you can talk about shades of blue, hues, or Picasso’s blue period, but how could I have ever (this is an analogy now…) have talk to JJ about Picasso’s blue period when he wanted to argue about the hue or didn’t even know what blue was in some cases?
S: Yes I totally understand that
me: by the same token, how can i discuss with you the nuances of relationships when you have never lived with someone?
S: If I haven’t walked the same path as you did, I cannot understand it exactly the same way. I agree.
me: even on the same path we will understand it differently… that’s the beauty of conversation. 🙂 none of these examples have to do only with someone else’s experience or lack there of SM and I have walked much of the same path, but we do still see things differently….well, here is one concrete thing I can say, an experience everyone has had… I have to pee…got to go…
S:lol… I guess Immersion helps a lot aye!
me:yep, sure does. Have a great day 🙂
S: u 2
And this, my friends, illustrates the entire point of this post: shared experience. When I started this blog, I wanted to find a subject that everyone has enjoyed and hated at some point, that everyone has shared, that is a most common of languages. I choose food. I have been wondering if I should come back to this blog. If I have used this metaphor enough. But I realized eating is one of our first, last, most emotional and most consistent experiences in life and I should probably stick with it. Yes, there are other choice metaphors for life… I could have called it OlyShits…but, well, I think you will understand why I didn’t.
Tonight, my new tenant and I will put my new found eating skills to the test and see if I can translate them into cooking skills. I have made myself a new spice cabinet, we have veggies, Basmati, and curiosity in our kitchen. Stay tuned…
On the beach at Mahabalipuram, looking at….