Inspired by Julia Child, I sit in my sister-in-laws kitchen wearing a flowered dress and pearls.I can’t quite get Julia’s accent right but I’m trying. Julia’s famous Boeuf Bourguignon simmers in the oven and the aroma is heavenly. A freshly made tarte tatin rests on the counter.
I’ve been in Canada for three weeks, with about three weeks to go before returning to Bangalore. Summer vacation. Rain. Clouds. For three weeks we have been staying with family and thankfully thoroughly enjoying it. We jokingly say that this is our communal experience. But I can’t help but think that the Indian people – and many eastern cultures – have got it right.
As we all know in many cultures extended families live together. In the west we often shake our heads not understanding this strange custom. I’m sure it can be difficult for some but for me the past three weeks has been fabulous. Sharing the cooking and cleaning, keeping each other company and always having someone to talk to; having someone to remind you to take out the washing and put it in the dryer; watching movies, playing bocci; taking turns baking cookies and so on.
True, here in the west, we probably wouldn’t choose to live with our extended family, other than perhaps aging parents. It would be considered odd for brothers and sisters and their families to live together. In India it is expected and completely normal.
Last night “the girls” watched Julie and Julia, pouring wine and having a toast each time they made a toast in the movie. It certainly inspired me to cook and bake – something I have not been inspired to do for quite some time. And today – we are Julia. Together we have prepared a wonderful meal, Julia style…and maybe Indian style too – as a family, with three of us helping out in the kitchen and making it enjoyable, certainly not a chore.
I imagine families in India cooking together, taking turns or sharing the load of cleaning, shopping and taking care of the children. Helping out when there is a problem or something in the house needs to be fixed. It wouldn’t always be a bed of roses but I can see the benefits in all stages of life: more people to play with the children or help with homework, help for parents with jobs, and more people to take care of the sick or elderly.
Living in India and vacationing in Canada is an experience in itself. It makes me appreciate both worlds for what they are and I realize that our experience in India is going to be life changing. I always say travel is the best education. Three weeks to go here in Canada and then the countdown will begin: one last year in Bangalore.
By the way, the Boeuf Bourguignon and the tarte tatin was delicious, as were the three bottles of fine wine. Thanks to Julia for inspiring and above all here’s to Les Trois Gourmandes!