Green Revolution

Decades ago a commercial company in America created the cartoon character Pop-eye for a popular serial, to promote the eating of spinach among young children. With the infectiously attractive super power from a tin of spinach, Pop-eye's popularity soared, and revolutionised and sky-rocketed the sales of this green vegetable, otherwise shunned if not hated by all the young blood. And this aversion to consume vegetables, one would agree, is not so strange a phenomenon, in fact quite universal, one would say, - and not necessarily the prerogative of American kids alone.

I was no different. Nor the kids around me - my brothers, sisters, and cousins, that I grew up with. Like all normal kids, we hated vegetables - or at least resented them, sulked at table if non-veg fare was missing, and did not hesitate to be a pain in the 'you-know-what' to mother, each time she tried to shove greens down our gullets. Her each success without doubt qualifying for a place in the book of records alongside those of other greats.

But I was not really a bad egg, though. Even if it's me that says so. I grudgingly obliged and suffered my bit. Downed the duty essentials - swallowing, gulping, and at times even washing down the lot with aqua pura. Even so, there were limits I could stomach. And beyond certain tolerance levels, a line was drawn. Heading the list of my taboos were the gooey 'ladies finger' bindis; for we Mangaloreans do not spice or cook them dry like others do, but merely boil them wet, slime and all. And not for the love of my greatest heart-throbs would I venture to look at brinjal. Not withstanding the bhaingan da bharta that my Punjabi friends swore by or the delicacies claimed in brinjal pickles my Anglo-Indian friends couldn't do without. And don't you dare mention things like karela the bitter-gourd, for you'd have made for yourself a permanent enemy of me for the rest of your life on this earth!

My conversion came rather suddenly, and unknowingly. I remember it was some where in my prime, the time I was stricken with a bout of illness. I was convalescing thereafter under the personal loving care and attention of mater. And what better place to recoup lost energy than under blue skies and starry nights, in the freshness of wilderness and the crispiness of the nippy mountain air. Our coffee estate provided all this and more. Alongside gallons of milk from home-stead cows, fresh game and invigorating soupy broth of young chicken pullets, mother cleverly introduced me to the delights of freshly picked garden vegetables. I watched her each day as her fingers selectively picked the beans and snipped the ladies finger from plants she nurtured herself with as much loving care. And placed these before me boiled just right with slight tang of salt and a sprinkle of pepper. Ahhhh.h..h…h…. to be sucked in with that swishy slurps, to tickle the taste buds and delight my palate.

Gradually and steadily, I learnt to love my vegetable fare and relish the crunch of fresh salad, steamy pies and saucy stews. Once awakened, the caterpillar in me has craved for more, - roots and fibres, the bitters and all. Surprisingly, I lost not my tastes for meats - those of land, the sky or sea. But discovered anew, I did, the delights of greens. To thank the Lord above for His kind mercies, for not letting me miss out on any of His bounties. Even the veg kind!

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