Friday, January 14, 2011


Departures and transitions inform so much of this blog; sorry if it gets repetitive! And here I am at it again, for I'm writing this as I sit at the airport in Toronto, on a bright sunny day, waiting for a flight to Tokyo, and from there a connection to Bangkok AND Chiang Mai.

My friend and Honda Fit co-owner gave me a drive to the airport this morning, so generous. That meant I had a peaceful nicely paced early morning of clearing up odds and ends, the usual crowd of pre-daparture last things. In this case there were some jpegs to send to a new magazine that's starting up later this spring, Taste & Travel; a little laundry to get done (better than being greeted by it in six weeks!); last minute book-packing decisions (when in doubt take lots, is the basic rule for me; my friend D supplies me with mysteries etc of all kinds to race through on the plane, then in checked luggage I take more substantial books for once I arrive); writing a cheque to leave for this anticipated bill and that; leaving a long note for Dom and Tashi, still snug in their beds; feeding Silky the cat...

That stream of chores and errands and tidyings-up gave me time to think about why leaving is always difficult even as the horizon beckons. It's not just the thought of missing those I love, though that is huge of course. It's also a child's or maybe animal edginess about launching myself into the void. The daily round, wherever we are, is what we know and are comfortable with at the moment. The transition is a form of free-fall. Once begun, I find it exhilarating. But the immediate lead-up is a little fraught. I suppose it's a very mild version of what the sky-diver feels before launching herself out the plane door?

Now that I'm out the door, it all feels easier. I am starting to be able to look forward to what awaits in Chiang Mai and Burma, rather than being reminded of what I'll miss in Toronto.

I know that in December, just before leaving Chiang Mai to fly back to Toronto, I was having regrets about breaking my flow there, tempered by the thought that I'd be seeing Dom and Tashi and friends. And here I am playing the tape in reverse.

This morning I posted on Facebook a little thought about the good luck of being able to feel at home in more than one place. The other side of that is that wherever I am, and you must all be familiar with this, there are people missing, people who are far away, living lives elsewhere. We can't have it all. Of course not. But that doesn't stop the child in me from having trouble sometimes navigating these transitions, the times when something is lost as something is gained.

How selfish and self-centred all this thinking is! But I feel it's worth talking about, for surely each day we experience smaller-scale versions of the same thing: separations, rejoinings, choices of one place or person or course of action over another, which means we leave behind us a trail of "roads not taken".

Perhaps, to get to something concrete for a moment, perhaps that's why cooking can be a relief and pleasure for many people. Yes, there are choices to be made, but if we don't love the result we have the chance, often, to do it differently next time, to improve or change our choices. In cooking, unlike in life, there are second and umpteenth chances. And isn't that a wonderful thought!

FOOD FOOTNOTE: There's a brand of sprouts etc called KIND, I think, now selling sprouted chickpeas, a great food. In the Indian subcontinent, sprouted legumes (just two or three days of sprout, a tiny tail) are used to make salads. When they sprout the legumes become sweeter, as their starches are converted to sugar, and more digestible too.

I have been playing with the sprouted chickpeas, heating whole spices, Bengali style, in oil with shalllots or garlic, then tossing in the chickpeas and sauteeing a little, then adding some liquid and simering them until they get a little less chewy. A dash of soy adds depth, as does a splash of vinegar or wine or lime juice. The other day I stirred them into some cooked wheat, Senatore Capelli variety wheat that Potz had at 4-Life. It's now coming in from Italy, and cooks up like brown rice, with great flavour, in about thirty minutes.

All these experimentings with hearty flavours are pleasing in winter, and mushrooms and a little chopped carrot are great possible additions, ginger too of course. These cooking decisions are play, not fraught: "why not try this? or that?"

How to make life-decisions as pleasurable and un-loaded?? hmmm Still looking for the recipe for that!

1 comment:

Ed, Dawn and Evelyn said...

Wishing you lots of legroom. Looking forward to your first meal posting.