I made a bucket of coconut chutney this afternoon. Two quarts to be exact.
I’ve had this tender coconut in my freezer for quite some time, eagerly awaiting the day that it would be picked out from beneath the icy shelves, warmed, pulverized, and married to green chillies, curry leaves, and mustard seeds.
There are nine more days that I have left here in my lovely Brookline kitchen. I love this kitchen and the ingredients it holds dearly. What better a day than today, on this summer solstice celebration, and day of yoga, to make coconut chutney?
Although I had watched Manjula’s video from her blog carefully, I could not resist getting some reassurance from my reliable South Indian shopkeeper – a short man from Chennai, middle-aged, perhaps in his 50s, rather silent for the most part.
I walked up to the counter with my curry leaves and green chillies in hand.
I am making coconut chutney, I announced affirmatively, waiting for his reaction.
When he tilted his head to the side and I knew I was in luck. I knew the words were coming.
Coco-nut chutney…he said slowly, rolling his eyes upward to the ceiling and scratching his chin with his stubby fingers.
You put-ah coconut.
Then-ah…small piece ginger.
Then-ah…some green chilli. Not too much, these are very spicy!
He looked at me quickly to make sure I followed before he rolled his eyes back up to the roof.
Then you put-ah…some oil.
Then-ah, curry leaves. These are very fresh. Too-day.
You make it-ah two days before the par-ty. Then it’s done. Very simple.
This little man has been my Indian cooking confidant since Boston day one.
Yes, I know things have been quiet on this blog…as in pin-drop silence! But that is not to say that I have not been writing. Actually, this year, I’ve written more words than ever before. (The types of things that have to be in complete sentences with parenthetical references.) Ask Jonathan, my pro-editor, who is probably grammar-checking this post as we speak. He has seen it all and I only hope that one day you can read them all too.
So yes, for those who do not know, I am leaving Boston at the end of June – off on another adventure! Classic move by me, I know. It seem as if I have the travel bug during this decade of my life.
In many ways, these last weeks in Boston remind me of the days when I first arrived to New England. Warm summer sun, not too many fixed commitments, a summer wine class, and an empty-ish apartment. Yes, those things are the same.
On the other hand, lots has changed. So much actually! I do not think I can begin to explain how much I have learned, how much love I have received, and how many special blessings disguised as experiences that I have had here. With that said, here goes just a few things that I have on my mind…
In Boston I’ve built a solid community of people who always have my back.
I’ve been looked after here.
By my yoga teachers and friends who swept me up off the sidewalk from Day One, with the head-nods and you-can-come-sit-with-us gesture. Can you imagine that for two years, I have eagerly awaited my Friday nights of spending almost 3 hours in a yoga room, discussing philosophy and practicing asana with some truly talented people? I don’t even know what else happens in Boston on Friday nights and have actually never been curious either. Life is already full.
By my colleagues at work who never let me go hungry and never let me back down from a task that I find challenging. Did you know, I have tasted rabbit liver, lamb merguez, and the most exotic Italian wine? I have dumped live crabs into boiling water, much to my stomach’s churning in despair. I have braided babkas, seared steak, poached many eggs, and worked alongside the most talented chefs. There have been many special experiences in the kitchen.
By my neighborhood buds at Trader Joe’s who have adopted me as an honorary crew member and always give me two wine samples.
By my students, who have helped me grow immensely as a teacher. Honestly, Boston is the first place where I have had regular students, absolutely brand new to yoga, that come attend my class in rain, in shine, even in snow, eager to learn. I’ve witnessed evolutions in other people’s bodies that I have only read about in my anatomy books. I’ve seen the spark, and the lightbulb, and another layer of the onion peeled away from this enigmatic journey within my students, when they begin to realize, Oh, this is what yoga is all about! While I always knew this to be true within my personal practice, it is an entirely different experience to see it happening within someone else. It is so exciting! And my trust in Guruji BKS Iyengar’s teachings and the practice of yoga has been solidified now more than ever before – indeed, yoga is a powerful and transformative gift for all and everyone.
In Boston I’ve created a home for myself; a place that I feel hugged by as soon as I enter through the door.
I’ve set it up just the way I like it, with plants (RIP Pepe), and bookshelves, and candles, and photos, and of course a beautiful yoga spot. I’ve ignited a fire in my vibrant kitchen. Is it here, for the first time where I have had the knowledge, ingredients, tools, and inspiration to create some amazing food.
More importantly, it is here in Boston that I have integrated my practice of yoga into a very real, work-and-school life…something that I thought after living in India might be nearly impossible.
Guruji Iyengar emphasized the importance of the grihastha life, or the householder life, where one engages fully in the material world (rather than going off into the mountains) while still maintaining a firm connection to the practice of yoga. While living, working, and studying in Boston, I have been powered by my early morning practice. My evening inversions take a load off of my feet after working the kitchen (ask my neighbors who see random toes hovering in the air every evening around 7pm from outside my window). Not to mention my countless drop backs across the living room that never cease to soak and wring and dry out the worries from my mind after being steeped in research.
Now that my days in Boston are winding down, I’ve been doing lots of things I love. Such as cooking all sorts of frivolous things, like buckets of coconut chutney and oodles of chocolate covered cherries. I’ve been taking time to sit on patios with my friends, drinking rosé . I’ve been biking to places that stun and silence me in their beauty.
This evening, I biked over to the Arboretum to sit amongst the trees and quiet my racing thoughts of the many things I have yet to make happen before I leave.
Goodbyes are always hard. I find leaving Boston to be quite the emotional subject.
However, this change, whether I realized it or not, has been brewing beneath the surface for some time. I have been readied by the love and courage and strength that I have gained during these Boston days. This change is a good one and comes at a welcomed, ripe moment. Whatever it is and wherever it takes me, who knows?
What I do know is that Boston will always be a fond home. And that I will be eating coconut chutney for the next nine days.
peace and love,
P.S. Come over with jars!