A Masala Story

I made a simple tomato curry to share with people at lunch. Trupti asked what was in it and I was scanning my brain for the ingredients…balsalmic vinegar, onion, chicken masala… “Chicken??” My table mates gawked at me in disbelief. I didn’t know what to do, all I could feel was a terrible sinking feeling in my stomach. I didn’t understand why a box of spice would have meat in it. You put it on the meat… They explained that there could be meat in it as part of the flavoring.

Having unknowingly poisoned my friends, I left lunch feeling guilty, ignorant and despondent for several reasons. Primarily, I am so thankful for how much people have done to make me feel included and welcome here and then I go and feed them meat. I felt very ignorant as I enjoy making food for others, and knowing the difference between vegetarian and non-vegetarian should be simple. And I try as hard as possible to be conscious and respectful of Indian cultural practices.

When I make mistakes that directly affect others it’s the worst. Opening the steam cooker on myself was just stupid, but at least no one else was damaged collaterally. A Titus Andronicus I was not prepared to be. (Look it up.) Then I went home and checked my spice jars. I only have two, chicken and garam masala. I realized I had used the spice I always use, my favorite jar of garam masala. All that strife had been for nothing! When I said chicken out loud unthinkingly, I then fully believed that that’s what had happened. Why did I say I had used chicken masala? Why had my memory failed me? I don’t know, but it is just one more example of how the workings of the mind are limited, at times faulty, and should not be relied on for everything.

The mistakes that we have committed…had to be…For all that happened was necessary…to lead us to something beyond what the mind imagines… It is not a question of being down-hearted or grieved or in despair if you have made a mistake, for every mistake can be corrected; from the moment you have found it is a mistake, there is an opportunity to work within you, to make progress and be very happy!”  -the Mother