While searching for some good cooking videos on Youtube, my wife came across this channel. It has a simple premise: an elderly Indian gentleman cooks a lot of food and gives it to orphans and underprivileged people. His recipes are simple. In some cases he just makes french fries or ramen noodles. What I like about these videos is that he cooks outdoors using simple pots and pans over an open fire which he lights himself. He has a small knife (which seems a bit dull) and painstakingly cuts massive amounts of vegetables.
Arumugam is “Grandpa” who lives in Coimbatore in western Tamil Nadu, India. His son Gopinath created the Youtube channel filming his dad cooking traditionally, packing up the food, and delivering it to orphanages.
Each video is like a meditation. Watching Arumugam slows you down. Watching him wash the vegetables out in a field with water from a jug, prepping the food, lighting the fire, then cooking is a delight for the senses. For those who like to cook fast, watching this man’s knife skills will drive you nuts. But slow and steadily, he will dice up a whole sack of onions sitting in a malasana-type posture. Any yoga teacher can’t help to notice how good his posture is and how easily he sits for what appears to be hours at at time.
My favorite videos are the ones where he cooks simple dishes like ramen or french fries. That’s all he makes. He puts a lot of love into these dishes. With his french fries he mixes them with some type of paprika seasoning which looks delicious. The reason why I like the simple food ones is because it shows that you don’t need to be elaborate when you help people, and any thing you can do for others yields large rewards. The smiles on the kids’ faces when they are eating are priceless.
To see Arumugam’s repertoire of dishes is astounding. He even has a dish he makes out of a stingray. There are a lot of traditional Indian preparations including and a variety of Biryani recipes. Much like a post I did a few years ago on Chef Pasquale, these are not so much “how to videos” as much as they show someone cooking soulful food from their culture. In this case demonstrating karma yoga in an unmistakably clear way.
I teach an ongoing Saturday morning class from 8 to 9 am at the base of Diamond Head in Honolulu. I tend to keep a pretty strict no cell phone policy, and my long time students adhere and enforce it to newcomers. Today, Hawai’i residents had the horror of receiving this alert just shortly after 8 am:
Growing up in the 80s, I can remember a good part of my teenaged years were spent wondering if they were going to drop the bomb at the height of the Cold War between the then Soviet Union and US. I haven’t really had this feeling since the Berlin Wall came down that nuclear annihilation was a possibility. This gave me chills.
Fortunately, it was an error. More fortunately, I did not get the alert during class, nor did my students because of the said phone policy. My class actually went well today for my seven attendees. I could see all my student’s faces in Savasana being very peaceful. How could we have known that the outside would be still be in absolute panic as the word that it was a false alarm did not come until about 45 minutes after the alert?
Others were not as fortunate. Video came in of a man trying to get his young daughter to go into a manhole in the street as she cried that she did not want to go in to it and wondered why. Also, University of Hawai’i students were running around campus in a panic like a cheesy 50s armageddon sci-fi movie. It was bedlam for many.
Today I had to have a conversation with my wife about what we would do if we were at our job sites during the week if this happened. Basically, call to say “I love you” and get to shelter, hoping for the best. If we were at home? Fill up the bathtubs with fresh water and get my mother in law on her wheelchair and go to the middle of the house where impact many not be as devastating? Not to mince words, a scary fucking conversation I wish to never have to have again.
In this age of heightened tension, I feel we as yoga practitioners have a duty to work for peace. That can come in many different forms. I am grateful that my class spared my students an hour of unnecessary panic from a stupid bureaucratic mistake. I feel we need to have higher standards for our elected officials who have seemed to get us into this mess on both a local and national level. As 2018 is an election year, I feel we can make a difference if we feel things are not running as well in this country as it could. So perhaps another way to work for peace is to make you way to the voting booth in November…if we can make it until then.
As many of my readers are probably having to wear a heavy coat now, I’d like to start the new year right, with a few pictures of warmth from my garden. It is year two of my Fukuoka-style of gardening. An unusually wet Hawai’i December has yielded wonderful results.
Chilly? How about Chile? This pepper plant barely survived last year’s summer. Now it is producing long delicious capsaicin-rich Cayennes. I think these are the kind that Chef Pasquale uses and calls “Oh yeah babys.”
The tall grass is a natural trellis for these snap peas. Once they reach the “roof” of this table-like trellis my wife and I put up last year they start going wild. Can you spot the camouflaged gecko on the bamboo? Those guys help me control the unwanted pests in the garden.
This patch of bush beans produced so many green beans I was able to make a dish for Christmas dinner with family visitors.
Across the yard our Meyer lemon tree is staring to produce its first bounty. These in time will swell up to full sized lemons. Enough to give away to family and friends.
I don’t want to bore you with the rest of the produce, but there is also a pumpkin, eggplant, bitter melon, saluyot, and daikon sprouting in this space.
The only work I did in the garden was throw seeds and trim the grass with a hand sickle. Nature has taken care of the rest of the labor. Stay tuned and happy new year!