One of the things I love most about living with my grandmother and my uncle is the kind of people I meet. Over time, I have dined with an art gallery owner, an architect, businessmen, socialites and the like. Discussions have ranged from the Rasa Theory propounded centuries ago to the works of Nicholas Nassim Taleb to art. However, one of my most memorable dinner parties would have to be the most recent one where I dined with an almost-80 Dutch economist/political analyst who speaks fluent French, German, English (in addition to Dutch, of course) and a smattering of Italian and Spanish and divides his time between his place in Provence and Mumbai; his lovely wife, an Indian in her 50s who speaks fluent French, is a wonderful mimic and has a huge crush on Russel Crowe; and a retired Parsi ENT who used to have a well-established practice in London but now lives in Mumbai.
Dinner conversation ranged from recipes on making the perfect parfait to etymology to travel stories. A substantial amount of time was also spent in determining whether a particular lime was a lime or a lemon. It was intensely intellectually stimulating. Of course, I enjoyed the travel stories the most. One of my favourite stories was the one where the Dutch economist spent close to 4 months travelling from Venice to India. He took a boat from Venice to Beirut and then completed the remaining journey on a bus. The bus journey took him 3 months because he also took time to stop over at places which interested him. He crossed Afghanistan on horseback and came to India. He has had a love affair with India ever since 1958 when he first visited the country and since then has been coming every 2 years and even more now that he is married to an Indian.
His Indian wife shared her recipe of a perfect parfait and also regaled us with her stories about missing Russell Crowe in Provence on 2 separate occasions. She told us of her trysts with pigeons and crows in a combination of French, English and (I think) Gujarati. She encouraged me to travel a lot and to travel often.
The retired ENT was a walking talking encyclopedia- a storehouse of information on everything from art to literature to travel to cooking. One of the most interesting tips he gave us was on how he learnt to cook. Apparently, while travelling through parts of Italy and France, every time he ate something he loved, he asked the chef to give him the recipe for it. In some cases, the chefs were kind enough to actually demonstrate. Unlike most people, he actually learnt from the chef who prepared and, in some cases, even devised the recipe. He also shared an anecdote on finding Indian silk in Turkey and how his Indian friends went crazy buying Indian silk in Turkey. He offered to give me advice on travelling through South East Asia and highly recommended Java and Laos to me.
Needless to say, as I was listening to all these stories and anecdotes, I thought I would burst with wanderlust. A dinner party like this just serves to reinforce my determination to travel. In fact, yesterday was a particularly good day for me. I was in the Zone throughout the day and managed to type out approximately 2,500 words of my e-book. I feel a lot less afraid and a lot more peaceful. Things don’t seem so overwhelming for the time being. In fact, I think I am still getting over the dinner party.