Look anywhere these days and you’ll see individuals, entities and whole countries cutting back. The current economic crisis has proving to be critical enough that no one escape unscathed. I work in the downtown area in San Francisco, and remember marvelling at the fact that even on work day nights, the mall next door used to be teeming with life, shoppers and lollygaggers galore. In recent times, the mall has the hush of a museum, the various shops looking like so many exhibits as we all walk by in a self-imposed mode of look-but-don’t-touch. This is easily emphasized by the fact that there aren’t that many stores as there once were, patches of dark are added to the retail tapestry all over as stores kick the bucket, sometimes stealing suddenly and quietly away into the night. Architecture and construction has been summarily decimated by the economy. As part of the belt tightening at my workplace, discretionary spending has been severely reduced. Lunch & Learns have taken up the ‘bring-your-own’ slogan definitively. There are no team lunches. Our team has come up with a good idea to work with this, in keeping with the bring-your-own theme. We have become our own caterers.
Once a month, the team meets to discuss ideas and current issues pertaining to the profession and what we do. This is different from working team meetings because the talk is not just restricted to the project at hand. It is an essential part of team building which we all appreciate at a time when communication is key. Plus there is nothing like bonding over food. This element was essentially renewed when my team-mate P.K suggested that she cook for this month’s meeting. P.K is a Malaysian native, who has lived in several places all over the world. She has a great sense of humour and is wonderful to work with. At the end of a long Wednesday, the smell of her chicken curry was intensely appetizing. She made a delicious silver noodle salad to accompany it, and served it alongside what Malaysians call roti-platha (and what Indians would call paratha, one of our forms of bread). I learned just how similar Malaysian food can be to Indian food and how delicious. Swooning over this curry as I did, P.K and I had an engaging conversation after the meeting about how she made it. She graciously presented me with a packet of my very own Malaysian meat spice mix the next day that I tried out as soon as I could, that very weekend. For a long time lover of curries, I am ecstatic to find a new one I love. I love how this country continues to engage in a diversity very different from the one I knew back home.