Fortunately, our love for green leafy vegetables is one of the many things that binds us as a family (it basically means no arguments during meal times 😛 ). And it’s not restricted to only loving the greens, but also experimenting with them. So when Ma and me are on our visit to the local vegetable vendor, our eyes first move towards the green leafy section, scanning it thoroughly for some new genus of vegetable which we haven’t come across earlier (if we don’t find any new breed, we settle for the old classics – spinach, fenugreek……so on – haven’t really bothered to find out what they all are called in English, so you got to be content with the above mentioned names :P).
On one such visit, I came across a something new – thick stalks, big leaves and bright green in colour – this was something I’d never come across earlier. So I called out to Ma, even she was amused. On seeing our curious faces with the bunch of that leafy vegetable in my hand, the vegetable vendor, immediately swooped in to inform us about it.
“Poisaag”, he said –
I was like – what? Bhaiyya phir se boliye? (Say it again please?)
He said,” It’s called Poisaag”
Took me a while to register the name.
Then came Ma,” Isko kaise banate hai?” (how is this prepared?)
Bhaiyya: Even I don’t know how exactly it is prepared, but if you happen to know anyone who is Bengali, you can ask them. It’s a popular vegetable in Bengal, and it has come in the market because the Bengali new year is in a couple of days”
We purchased it anyway – after all, experimental people!
Next task – search a Bengali!
We came back home. I suddenly remembered that we had new Bengali tenants in the last apartment on the topmost floor in our building.
“Ma, why don’t you ask them?”
“Not sure beta, they’re new here…we haven’t got a chance to interact with them as yet”
“So this is a chance na?!”
She finally took the bunch and went.
An old lady answered the door, with a confused look on her face. Ma immediately showed her the bunch, and the lady’s eyes lit up! ❤ Ma asked her how it has to be prepared, but the lady, though excited, was struggling to tell Ma – she wasn’t fluent in Hindi. But that didn’t dampen her spirits! After months she had seen something that belonged to her home town – and she was determined to get this through. She welcomed Ma into her home and scurried off into her kitchen to get all the ingredients that were required to prepare Poisaag. She explained Ma patiently, with whatever little Hindi knowledge she had. After around half an hour, Ma came back home, all smiles. After all she had a new acquaintance, a Bengali one that too! 🙂
The next day, Poisaag was prepared in our home – the way she had mentioned.
And it turned out to be one of the best green leafy vegetables we’d ever eaten! And after a little struggle, when Google understood what we meant when we typed Poisaag in the search box, we also got to know that it’s a vegetable that’s a powerhouse of essential vitamins and minerals!
A couple of weeks after this, Ma came across the lady again, and this time, the lady told Ma quite a lot about herself. She had a huge home back in Kolkata, but was now left all alone there. Her only daughter was married and her son-in-law had got posted in Pune. She joined them here, but she says she feels lonely here too!
“It’s not like Kolkata here…..it’s a bit cramped here…”
But she had that sparkle in her eyes, probably Ma was her first friend in Pune!
Every day after that, whenever I would leave for college early in the morning, she would always be by the Anant tree, picking out flowers for her daily pooja. Not a day went by when I didn’t see her. We cordially smiled at each other if we came face to face, which was quite rare, as the lady would always be engrossed in picking out the flowers, with her back facing me.
“Your daughters are just like you”, she once told Ma.
We smiled sheepishly at this compliment – we love it when someone says that! ❤
Our everyday meet happened as usual, it was almost a week i hadn’t seen her – weeks turned into months and I wondered what happened. She probably had gone back home to Kolkata.
Fast forward to the next month, we had the annual Pooja in our society and we had all gathered for dinner after it. And there she was – draped in a simple handloom sari (famous in Kolkata).
I couldn’t stop myself from rushing to her and asking her,”Where were you all these days?”
As usual, she struggled to communicate but said that she had gone back home to Kolkata. Also, pulling my cheeks a little, she asked about our well-being. I cannot forget her gleaming eyes and that cheerful, jolly round face! She too, was equally happy on seeing us after days.
“She’s just like a roshogulla!”, I exclaimed later.
And our tryst of greeting each other every morning continues till date. 🙂
In the wake of so many communal differences that our plaguing the soul of our country, little incidences like these could create an impact, which is why I wrote this blog. Forget the rest of the country, in my building itself, we are 18 different families belonging to different parts of our country – right from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar in the north to Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka towards the south – we have it all. And the way we co-exist with each other, taking pride in learning about each others culture, customs, traditions – it’s just beautiful. We all make an effort to embrace each other’s culture and respect it. And that’s what the true spirit of being an Indian is – we sure have a lot of reasons to create that divide amongst us, but we consider our differences to be our strength, probably that’s what has helped us cruise through all these years. And I just hope we make it through all the years to come too. And a little reminder – we have a lot to be proud about, so embrace it, love it and live it ❤
Just like how Poisaag turned out to be the ice-breaker between us and our new neighbours, there a million other reasons and things out there which we can use to learn more about each other.
And yes, this Navratri, let’s burn down our differences and revel in the true spirit of being an Indian!
Aap sabhi ko Dasshera ki Shubkamnaye! (in advance) 😀