‘THE Hundred-Foot Journey’ by Richard C Morais – courtesy of a good-books friend, is a wonderful novel.
Don’t read this book if you are hungry. You might eat it – quite an appropriate opinion from an award-winning screenwriter.
Indeed, it was spicy fish curry Machli Ka Salan in olden West Bombay from the first page when the character of this book, Hassan, was born, right to the end when he puts his final touch to the dessert Arte Au Vin en route to his elevation to the uppermost echelons of French haute cuisine.
Plates and baskets of food literally sprang from the pages as readers took the journey with Hassan, across the continents.
But, it is good food for the brain, too.
When he was small, Hassan’s dear mummy brought him on a bus ride to downtown Bombay and they both entered the posh French restaurant for the first time in their lives.
Coming from a family owned village restaurant, the little boy was overwhelmed with the luxurious furnishing and panic-stricken with the exotic-sounding dishes like Bouillabaisse and Coq Au Vin. But Mummy smiled kindly and said: “Never be afraid of trying something new, Hassan.Very important. It is the spice of life.”
Yay, thinking of my application for judicial review to challenge the Election Commission’s endeavor to delineate electoral boundary as they wish, a voyage into uncharted Malaysian legal waters.
Reading The Hundred-Foot Journey was what I had done from the eve of the Lunar New Year into the first day of the festive holidays and I turned the last page that evening, so pleased with what I have accomplished in the annual off-day.
The then unfinished story of Hassan was shared with Mum and Dad, over our usual vegetarian breakfast of rice with a dish of vegetables and beans to start the Lunar New Year.
They were pleased, more delighted with my young boy’s story of dinosaurs befriending some young scientists, though.
The little boy had forced himself to read a story book past the midnight hour, too.
It is a tradition for the Chinese, at least in my family, from my great grandmother’s time, that children do not go to sleep early on the night of New Year’s eve. There is always so much cleaning and tidying of the house after the reunion dinner.
After the chores and a bath will mean it is close to midnight and all the children will take out their books to read or holiday homework to complete and this must be carried through the midnight until the deafening fire crackers in the neighbourhood have ended.
Great grandmother would come for breakfast in our four houses all close by, all similarly rice with a dish of mixed vegetables and beans to start the Lunar New Year day.
As children, we could not wait to impress great grandmother with what we had read or written because she had kept ang pows in two separate pockets.
The ones in the left would contain a little extra, compared to those in the right pocket. Only the rare few who fell asleep or took too much time enjoying the fireworks and firecrackers would end up with a smaller ang pow from her right pocket.
“The best time of the year is in Spring, the best time of the day is the morning. Or plan for your year in Spring, plan for your day in the morning,” she repeated this time-honoured Chinese teaching every year.
“That is the significance of the Lunar New Year because it marks the coming of the Spring.” We grew up with those words.
We do not have the luxury of the four seasons of the temperate countries. We have one better and perpetual season of “mild Summer all year round, Spring after a shower.”
So, to be honest, I do not wait until the Lunar New Year to plan for the year. We follow the common Gregorian calendar to lay down our resolutions and plan for the year. But tropical or temperate, the wisdom is shared in the teaching that it is the best time to plan and start one’s day in the morning. The earlier the better, of course.
“Early birds get the worms.”
Wake up early, plan our day early, start our day early. It doesn’t only give us a start ahead of others, more labour hours than our peers; it means uninterrupted extra hours of freshest of mind and concentration on the tasks in our hands and head.
We were always told, successful people have a secret weapon that everybody has access to, but few choose to take advantage of: Early morning.
When our aged elders wake us up early morning and tell us grandfather stories during the morning walks or mothers grumble about our studies, diets and clothing, appreciate them and take their teachings positively. They do everything just to inspire us to be successful in life.
Are you going to wake up early tomorrow morning?
Have you read anything that inspires you today?