The first time I ate tamarind, all the electrical paths in my head lit up like a Christmas tree. Maybe this is what happens to people when they do crack? I wanted more, but it was in a tiny dish, obviously meant for dipping. I wanted a soup bowl full of it, but manners are manners and I hid my greed. At least it’s legal and I don’t have to rip off a liquor store to get more.
I have an Indian friend who is quite inconveniently moving away to the west coast. I’m sure he’s oblivious to the fact that I always have internal meltdowns when people I care about go away. I’m not even sure if he’s paid attention to the fact that I care about him in the first place. Kind of reminds me of my mom’s oft-stated observation “for such a smart kid, you sure are stupid!” Well, fair enough. We were often in the hospital when she said things like that.
My friend and I have discussed tamarind multiple times. He told me about a store where I can get it and I bought a block of it. I wondered what I was supposed to do to it to turn it into the soup bowlful of ambrosia. He says he just eats it as is – which is all he can really do since he’s made clear that cooking isn’t a skill he’s going to acquire in this lifetime.
As for leavings and my meltdowns regarding them, I suppose it started when Great Grandpa died. My uncle moved away, my cousins, my first girlfriend, my second, my third, my other cousins. Every year people left my life, hardly ever to return. Some of these leavings were especially tragic like when my dad died in an accident when I was a teenager or my friends in more recent years.
Since my Indian friend has already shown he’s capable of moving halfway around the Earth, I suppose he’s especially clueless that not all of us are capable of such things. I couldn’t manage life in Indiana very well, let alone India – though I suspect India might be more interesting. And they have tamarind. All Indiana has is corn and soybeans, and to repeat an Indiana joke, corn is the state tree.
I’ve been thinking for a while that I should give my friend a parting gift, but I couldn’t think what to give. “Lush” made me think of tamarind and the green, cultivated city on the other side of the world my friend knew as a child.
Yes, I know the world has gotten smaller with the internet, but it can’t replace drinking tea and eating bagels together while he opens my eyes to new ways of thinking about different things. I’ll miss seeing his flush of happiness when he comes in after his dance class, still full of energy. I’ll miss laughing with him when he makes another of our friends laugh, and I’ll miss laughing when he doesn’t get my teasing. I’ll miss his calm and tolerant approach to life.
So here’s to my friend that he be successful and happy in California, knowing that when I eat tamarind, I’ll be thinking of you J