Soul Imprints

buon appetito
May 16th, 2016

Soul Imprints

buon appetito

May 16th, 2016

In the spiritual journey of life, eating is much more than satiating the tongue; it is the intake of nutrition for our sensibilities. Simple foods, small portions, and refreshing presentations reflect inner contentment and beauty. This appreciation is critical for feeling deserving of nourishing experiences. I recall two specific episodes, diametrically opposite, that enhanced my sensory experiences and taught me invaluable life lessons.

The first experience was in East India. A young woman (incredibly lovely), employed as domestic help, invited me to her home for a festival meal. Overjoyed at the invitation, I quickly accepted. My mind went into overdrive wondering what the afternoon would have in store for me—will she be wearing her special saree with a bright red blouse? Will her floor be decorated with rangoli (designs made from coloured rice power)? Will she be treating me to rice sweets? My imagination was limited—the visual narration and emotional experience extended by her were far more rewarding than I imagined. The precious wonderland she invited me into was a dream!

On the day of the luncheon, accepting my box of sweets with genuine gratitude, she guided me through never ending rice fields to reach her non-descript abode, a thatched hut nestled in between fields. Unapologetic, she ushered me in and introduced me to her family. Her fullness, like her family’s, was reflected in their welcoming—it was musical and uplifting. The same fullness could be felt in the refined presentation—bright orchids accompanied subtle incense and on the spotless floor lay woven chattais (floor mats), on which we were to sit and eat. The awakening experience continued as she served art like food from shallow woven baskets, moving like poetry with the gentle breeze.

The young woman’s hospitality came from within—warmth and giving that can only flow from knowing oneself along with a deep sense of spirituality and dignity of life. That day, I learnt from this young woman’s elegance based in virtuosity and was humbled by her ebullient force.

A decade later, I was humbled again, in France. Thanks to a friend, I was invited to the home of a Parisian woman (Where I don’t care much for socializing and small talk, I welcome new experiences that hold the potential to enrich my life.). Once again, my curiosity was at a high: what would she be like? What were we going to talk about? What was her home décor style?

With a bunch of flowers held like delicate butterflies, I walked up the stairs to her second-floor apartment admiring the ornate wrought iron and the old shiny wooden rail that whispered: well cared for. As we waited for the door to be opened I threw a broad smile at my friend. The anticipation did not disappoint. We were greeted by an openness that expressed itself wearing a distinct air of surety and groundedness.

From the moment we stepped in, she put me at ease right away asking after my stay and showing interest in my life. Her presence of mind was quick to notice my eyes scanning the elegant décor, and as though on cue, she lead me through stunning French doors to her even more stunning balcony. I appreciated her willingness to educate me on the history of architecture as she showed me around her apartment. And then there was the spread—sumptuous tea laid out on a vintage French country table. So at-home was I, it was impossible not to accept her offer of a second cup of piping hot tea and a gooey canele. Exercising self-control, I politely declined the offer for a second serving of cake…to be très elegant!

In the couple of hours that we spent in her home, my subconscious mind soaked in the details. They were a reflection of her, details that develop over time through a series of decisions. This woman of old wealth was sharing, and willingly, the elegance with which she lived. Each spoken word and gesture revealed her refinement and maturity. 

In both the instances, I had experienced a full symphony—from their spirit that spoke of elegance to the distinct notes that filled their homes and to the wholesome taste of food. These spiritual experiences taught me that under the packaging of region, language, and social class, the wealth of ingredients remains the same. Simmered down, the focal point, in East India and France, was caring and sharing—to share the spaces they had created and to ensure I feel welcomed; it was about extending another what is intrinsic to one’s soul—dignity and belonging.

The gift of travel has to be one of the most invaluable gifts—it gives me the opportunity to observe and learn from others’, on how to enhance my inner wellness and continuously evolve. Like a bee, I am always hovering around authentic abundance.

Buon appetito!

Heera

 

 

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