It was another blustery midsummer evening, in effect the opening of a valuable table talk season and new stories. We had a hectic day at the restaurant; Andrea and Douglas arrived for their habitual dinner of the week. Like every time, we greeted them, comfortably seated them in their preferred table. They love to communicate and make a crack with everyone; they are like family for us. British business is peculiar when it comes to weather and curry. They eat much less in summer and a lot in winter or rainy days, so we don’t complain about bad weather.
At the moment Andrea tasted the spicy chilly chutney next to her favourite garlic pickle, we saw a flash of lightning on her face! Toiling with her delicious look, wiping streaming tears, she gulped half of her mango lassi in one go. Then with a smirk she started our chat: “What’s ego? Do you guys sense it in your trade? How does one restrain it and deal with it?” Andrea’s always like this, she will bring up some subject and soon get us engaged.
Assimilating four queries related to ego, we gradually explored this emotion evoking the lore of gleaming, animated story of chillies. World over chillies gained a spicy repute thanks to Indian food—beginners get finicky trying curry, expecting a spiral hike of agonizing heat even before tasting it. The truth is far removed from this, with imaginative treatment it can be made delightful and balanced with flavours.
Originally chilly was not part of Indian cooking, but having arrived in the subcontinent, pushed itself into our illustrious cuisine and added a new dimension to its future.
Likewise ego has been chirping in our lives, popping up every now and then. Ego argues our rights, questions others’ wrongs and tries to enforce authority on people. Similar to Andrea’s doubt, it’s a global image of people’s personality today when it comes to differentiating others, then unlike everyone thinks people can easily read our ego in actions. Just like instant reaction on tasting a chilly flavour, in our response and words, ego announces its entry.
It’s debatable whether one can locate a reason for this problem since you can see it in numerous aspects of life, but people tend to express ego to shield themselves, just like a snake stands up to combat a possible hazard! We haven’t been informed of many people who managed to be free of ego, it’s like any other emotion in life, they arrive and depart. It’s extremely noteworthy that we are the first people to sense ego’s advance within us even before we fling it at others and certainly we can control and contain its effect.
Like Andrea’s media business, the food domain is not short of ego menaces; in fact we have worked hard to bring it to a desired level of control in restaurants. Some of us learned to overcome a great deal of its ploys, even though we couldn’t change several others. We have seen people foster a habit of anger as a result of ego manifestation, followed by superfluous fights with co-workers and drift in their respective professions. Gloomy fact is, they never grasp the negative effect of ego in their life, which always keeps them away from growing prudent.
As we seek a personal transformation and live in a better environment, it’s important to understand ego. Like chillies, used with restraint, ego can add an attractive flavour to life.
Diwali generates perfect reasons to embrace radiance, as we rejoice in purity and sharing sweetness of love. Let’s hope ego gets pushed down in front of the power of auspicious lights. To enjoy beauty of existence, we need to be tender with our own ego and relish the zest without shaking the fire hidden underneath, as we do with chilly. It’s an awakening touch of flavour.
“I got what I wanted, thank you,” Andrea said as she walked away munching Diwali sweets and cheering Douglas.
The author is a London-based restaurateur who owns the Rasa chain of restaurants