I love India.
For my fill of the motherland today, I decided to visit Sartaj India Cafe on Caledonia St in Sausalito, for a little spice of India. For my friends who love Indian food, they would have been jealous today. Every year, the owners – a cute Indian couple, the husband happily walking around pouring heavy glasses of Chardonnay, and their family, including their little girl taking videos of the event (bringing back memories of when that was my job at family get togethers) – host a Thanksgiving dinner a week ahead of Thanksgiving to give thanks to the community that supports them the entire year. It’s a grand and appreciated gesture. And I was one of the lucky recipients.
When I walked into the small establishment, I was greeted with the sights and sounds and smells of India. If I closed my eyes, I could see and hear and smell Mallapally and Ernakulam and New Dehli of my youth, a time when America was but a glint in my parents eyes, in mine a thought that never entered it, that would only years later became reality. Around me, I can hear Hindi dance music, strangers talking all around me, mostly English but also Hindi (which I do not understand). I smelled and ate samosas, tandoori chicken, aloo gobi (among my favourites), chicken tikka masala, and pakoras all served atop rice. There was a buffet both inside and outside. Under a tent inside in the back of the restaurant, we sat around unfolded tables. Outside, people sat on the concrete lot ground, also behind the restaurant, Indian-style in small circles.
And now I am dancing. And I am people watching. I love North Indian music. Inside in this small room filled with sounds of Bhangra, everyone is dancing. And because the room can only hold so much, there is dancing in the streets. Martha, her Vandellas, Jagger and Bowie would be proud. I’ve already Shazaam’d every song so far. iTunes and PayPal are very happy with me.
I love the sense of community that an Indian meal invites. It reminds me of home, growing up, when every day without fail, despite the fact my mother worked every single day in one of the hardest professions (a nurse at a VA hospital), she gathered our family around the dinner table having cooked the most delicious of meals. I didn’t appreciate it then nearly as much as I should have, and now, in looking back, I am in total admiration of this Wonder Woman who just happened to be my mother. In recollection, those were some of my favourite times with my family.
And tonight, though they are far away, I think of those family dinners.