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A little egg curry with lasagna, if you love me " Our experience of discovering issues around women through sharing recipes."

Dear Urmila,
You have asked whether I remember when we crossed the line from acquaintances to family. I believe it was in late May when we first spoke via video. I knew you were brilliant, with the beauty that only inner passion can produce, from seeing your photographs in your World Pulse journal and on facebook. I could see that you also had a twinkle of kind humor in your wide-open eyes, but hearing you laugh completely destroyed any hope of keeping intact boundaries to block you taking over a family place in my life’s spirit. I feel that you have now become a part of my eternal life.

I can’t remember how we originally connected, as we are an unlikely “couple.” I am a woman in my last third of my time here on earth and you are still in your first “trimester.” I have brought up a daughter that is now middle-aged, while you have a daughter that hasn’t reached puberty. I am a twice divorced and now happily married entrepreneur from the Deep South of the USA; you are reproductive health care educator and activist in India. The only thing we seemed to have in common is our great love of words; we are both prolific writers.

I do know that we met through the women’s connection network of World Pulse, which enabled us to see each other’s souls over the thousands of miles that physically separate us. We continue to find more and more ways to explore our lives through the eyes of each other. These are the eyes of pure love. I am ever amazed that we can feel such powerful connection through the use of technology.

You seem to have a sixth sense about me, and I have no idea how you developed this depth of compassion without ever meeting me. How is it that you suddenly, in the middle of a facebook chat began posting photographs of the meal you were preparing for yourself and your daughter?

I had never told you that I believe that cooking for those we love is sacramental, and yet you were sharing this homemaker’s sacrament with me. I had never said that I taught cooking and operated several restaurants and catering services during my career, while bringing up my own children. Here you were teaching me to cook the foods that you lovingly prepare for your young daughter. How could you know that feeding family is one of my favorite occupations and topics of conversation?

What great memories we’ve already made together, based on that one spontaneous act of sharing your home life with me. You challenged me to share one of my recipes, along with pictures of the process, with you. The recipe you chose to learn was lasagna, a meal that I have cooked with countless children. This rekindled memories of cooking with various nieces, nephews and grandchildren. It also sent me to the internet to search for Indian equivalents to ingredients that I use.

How fortunate I am to live so near New Orleans with her multi-culture population and access to all manner of international and exotic foods. My dear Richard and I spent an afternoon browsing in the international foods warehouse and learning of Indian ingredients from the owner who zips around his sweetly scented empire on a scooter. We bought cheeses and spices from him, as he freely gave us great memories of time spent in his store.
As I prepared the recipe requested by you, my dear sister/niece, I enlisted Richard to help me photograph my efforts, as you insisted on photos as you had included in the recipe you taught me. In my mind, I could hear your giggle the whole time I cooked. I also kept wondering how you will ever succeed at making lasagna in a home without an oven. I still wonder about that.

Our adventures in sharing our sacrament of feeding family, and your suggestion that we should share our story of using food as a bonding experience, even over thousands of miles, inspired me to do the same process with my Venzuelan next-door neighbor. I didn’t know, at the time, that she would soon move away from me, but now that she has I am especially glad that I have the photos and recipes of her preparing an authentic Venezuelan supper for me and my Richard. The memories of that meal, and of my dear soul sister Maite, are imprinted forever on my eternal spirit.

I am hoping to enact the same with our sister Tosin in Nigeria. I am fascinated by the cooking bags that she makes from recycled insulating materials. I have seen her photographs of the bags and meals prepared in them on facebook, but I have no recipes and photos of the step-by-step process. You set the standard and spoiled me for any other way to teach each other how to cook our physical foods that feed our souls and those of family and friends. If I convince Tosin to join in this effort, I may have to video chat with her to see if she also seasons with giggles, as you do.

Did I tell you that I also co-authored a cookbook? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could turn your example into an online international cooking course? Another project that you can take on in your “spare” time? HaHa!

I started this letter at 4:00am, my time; it is now 5:00 and I have been awake since 2:00. I think I’ll try to sleep now for a few hours. Today is Sunday, the sacred day Richard saves to spend with me. I don’t want to be too tired to have any fun.

I love you bunches of bouquets, Sweet Urmila.

Continue being a blessing,

P.S. Here is the link to your reply

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