I am writing this because I realised I have never said this: thank you for making me the cook and foodie I am today. I know you've never taught me how to cook. But all that you've done apart from that has made me what I am in the kitchen today.
Do you remember the first time I turned on the stove to cook by myself? I still remember it clearly. I must have been 11 or 12 years old. You had just come back from your site and were very tired. There was no one at home and I simply wanted to make tea for you. I don't remember how the tea turned out. It was probably not good. But I will always remember the joy I got out of making that tea for you. That joy was my first lesson in how wonderful it feels to cook for the people you love and care for.
When I was learning how to cook, you've eaten some really terrible meals. I have lost count of the undercooked, overcooked, burnt, under-salted, very salty, bland and spicy meals I have cooked as a child. Or what I thought were 'creative' meals but were just disastrous experiments in cooking (remember the matar paneer at home with gravy of thin ketchup thickened with cornflour paste?) Mom would give me 'feedback'. Bhavya would simply look for alternatives to eat. But you ate each one of these meals quietly and finished what was on your plate without a word. I've never said it, but that always gave me the encouragement to bounce back after a bad day. And to go on to planning the next meal.
You've also made me the foodie I am today. You have always been someone who'd go to restaurants and try something different than what others of the group were eating. My willingness to try new dishes comes from looking up to you and wanting to be like you. There were hits (Thai red curry at Moni's when they first introduced it in early 2000s) or misses (that bland white pasta we ordered at VS) but you were always my eating partner in these new dishes.
And Rohan always tells everyone about how wonderful it was that despite being a Gujju you introduced me to eating egg and chicken. Trust me, he will always be grateful to you for that. Because he couldn't have married me na if I was a vegetarian!
So thanks pappa for always being there for my love of cooking.