Thursday, October 30, 2008

Adding Sweetness to Life .....


Lovely, tasty and colorful sweets by Ananda Bhavan Restaurant

Photo taken by Avinesh's computer camera.

I grew up in Jelutong Village in Penang and had some Indian and Malay neighbours. Hence it was natural for my siblings to pick up some spoken Tamil and Malay. We were more fluent in Malay as we also studied the language in school as it was a compulsory language.

Every Deepavali, my neighbours would come round to give us some sweets which were usually home made. But for some reason, some of the sweets were rock hard; hence we were only able to eat the softer ones. However, we would play with the sweets which were hard like stone, treating them like marbles!

Hence, I had such a warm feeling when my neighbours, Mr. and Mrs. Pandiyan, gave me a lovely box of sweets during Deepavali. The sweets were nicely packed in a see through box and were made by Ananda Bhavan. I had taken my tenants to Ananda Bhavan a few times for lunch and dinner, but had never tried their desserts. Ananda Bhavan serves delicious and reasonably priced vegetarian cuisine.

I have gradually learnt to appreciate Indian food. Yet for one year, after I moved to Little India, I had never stepped into any eatery in Little India! My tenant from China, Yiwei, would sometimes buy back some Indian delicacies and would offer me some and I would turn him down. After Yiwei left, I had Ashok and Jasmin as tenants, and they often offered me some home cooked vegetarian food which I gradually learnt to enjoy. This is quite an achievement, as by nature, I am not an adventurous person where food is concerned. Now I have even learnt to cook some Indian vegetarian dishes from my current tenants, Avinesh and his wife, Anul. Though not a vegetarian, I take little meat, and prefer fruits and vegetables.

It is interesting to note that some of the sweets are very colorful and remind me of beautiful saris. Amazing Indian culture! The Indians have such a rich culture. My second sister, Ean Ean used to say that the Indians must be people with great minds and artistic flair for everything about their culture is so complex - their intricate dances, colorful clothes and equally colorful food with so many different spices, their languages and dialects! She liked to joke that luckily she never married an Indian or she would have so much to learn!

I look at the box of sweets again and at the left hand bottom of the box was the phrase, "Adding sweetness to life..." What a catchy slogan! How wonderful if all of us could help to add honey and sugar to help sweeten life a little. This sweetening does not cost much .....a radiant smile, a warm hug, a finger to dial 999 when we see a fight, a little generosity to share our home and food, a thoughtful gesture to help make things a little easier for others and a ready heart to volunteer without being asked. For some, life can be really bitter at times; let's all help to add a dash of sweetness.

Gan Chau

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