Sometimes love arrives in a carefully packed zip lock bag after traveling 10,000 miles across oceans and continents.
Nostalgia is defined as the “sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations. The feeling can sometimes be evoked from music, a pleasant memory of the past, or any sensory perception that was crystallized in time by a fondly experienced moment.”
Nostalgia. Has is struck you how nostalgia strikes when you least expect it? A whiff of a perfume as somebody passes by. The smell emanating from somebody’s cooking. A voice that reminds you of somebody long gone or somebody far away. A face that looks so familiar.
I met Subha in Trichy during Fall 1993. We became fast friends really fast. I got to know her family. They are the kindest and sweetest souls. Whenever we visited her house, her mom fed me and my friends. Over the next three years, I slowly acquired the acquired taste for mahali kizhangu pickle.
My grad school friend Rathna once told me that there is a quota for everything. Eating mom’s rasam has a quota. You don’t realize the quota is done until it is done.
I didn’t realize my quota for mahali kizhangu pickle was done until it got done. My four year stint in Trichy ended in Summer 1997 and so did my quota of Suba’s mom’s mahali kizhangu pickle.
After two decades, we remain good friends.
When I visited her in Summer 2014, mahali kizhangu was on the menu. I teared up and (as usual!) laughed my way through it with some dumb jokes.
This weekend, she sent me a zip lock bag full of mahali kizhangu pickle with her family members who were visiting Austin. Thank you to her family for bringing the goodies.
I opened the ziplock bag today evening and nostalgia hit me hard. My senses took a ride through a time long gone by. My mind was transported to Tiruchy. The hot weather. The dryness. The cold curd rice her mom served with so much love. I can almost hear her dad’s voice “Ambal, Nalla sappadu di. Innum konjum mahali kizhangu pottuku. Unnaku piddikama di.” (English Translation: Ambal, eat well. Take some more mahali kizhangu? You like it, don’t you?)
I wish I could go back to those days. Relive them. Relive them more fully.
Alas, I can’t. None of us can.
But, here is the beauty of nostalgia.
Nostalgia reminds us that some beautiful moments of life are past us. It reminds us to live this moment. To live this moment more fully.
Because, there is a quota for moments that we have. As Rathna said, you don’t realize the quota is done until it is done.
I’ll go back now and eat some more of those cherished mahali kizhangu pickle.
I hope this post rekindled your memories of a day long gone by. A taste long gone by. A smell long gone by. A person who is special to your heart.
I urge you to pick up your phone and call that old friend and start by saying “Remember when we….”.