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Posts Tagged ‘memory’

Cooking rice

I’m at my parents’ place for a couple of days. The diet here involves rice more than anything else. I don’t mind. I like rice. I was brought up eating rice.

My grandmother who used to live in our house taught me how to cook rice and until this day, I’m very proud to have learned that from her. I was never allowed to help my mother cook when I was small, but if grandma was cooking, I was allowed to help.

She would show me how much rice to put in the pan and exactly how to wash it. I took my task very seriously. She also showed me how much water should be in the pan before putting it on the fire and how exactly to cook it dry.

Now, there are a couple of things that are worth mentioning.

First, when cooking rice, you have to make sure you put enough water in. ‘Enough’, according to my grandmother (and this is a well known fact in the Asian culture, I imagine) is exactly one phalanx about the surface of the rice. I always wondered how that could be, since my phalanx was visibly smaller than my grandmother’s.

Second, I would tell her that I wasn’t done washing the rice. I loved having my hand in the water and feeling the kernels, massaging them slightly to clean out all the dirtiness. Now, much later, I understand that rinsing them once or twice is enough, but when I was young, I’d do this very thoroughly, and three times at least. It was the only task I was allowed to do and I’d do it well! I watched the water getting murky from the rice. And with every time I rinsed it, it got less murky. It was a wonderful process; put water in pan, massage the rice and play with it a bit getting your hands wet, watch the water and then rinse it. My grandmother must have had all the patience in the world…

I wonder how that changed. Nowadays, when I have a task, I want to do it efficiently. I want to succeed in it in as little time as possible with best results. How did I get there? When I was 8, it was natural to do a mindful job when rinsing rice. When did this change?

Is it because of all the things I’ve learned in all these years? Is it because I don’t find washing rice interesting anymore?

I don’t know. All I know is that I’m proud I learned this from my grandmother. And that, even 20 years later, I still learn something from it.

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Childhood memory

Time: somewhere when the world was still small enough to comprehend when you feel safe.

Place: a swimming pool, near my dad’s safe arms in a country that did not register in my brain.

He said I could let go. He said I’d float. Excitement, apprehension and fun are coursing through my veins. I look up at the sky, not really seeing what’s there, because my head is too busy with not being scared that the water will flow over my eyes and head. Somehow, I don’t see that there’s no real danger in that. It feels dangerous, even with my dad just at arm’s reach. After what seems like a long time, I kick my legs, trying to get control over this weird environment with only water and chlorine and my dad grabs me to help me be vertical again.

(more…)

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