From the briny depths of a dark mysterious ocean a tiny air bubble begins a determined journey and races immediately towards the distant surface. Adhering firmly to Boyle’s law, the volume of air expands swiftly as the growing bubble ascends more and more rapidly. From a tiny bead it quickly becomes the size of a pea, to a marble, then a golf ball, an apple, a coconut and finally a watermelon before it bursts ferociously at the surface. I wake up gasping violently from this nightmare with the burning sensation of a man who just had a broken car battery emptied down his throat.
It is my peculiar, present-day Indian food jinx: my Korma Karma. I love it but it considers my gastrointestinal system unworthy. In this culinary caste I am cast away. I am continually bullied by Biryani, menaced by Madras, and, worst of all, victimized by Vindaloo. It wasn’t always this way, being a proud alumnus of Khan’s Restaurant in Bayswater, London. My old Indian flame, she flirts and taunts me but I cannot indulge in her forbidden spices lest I revisit Mysore stomach in the wee hours in a hotel room in the middle of nowhere. And that is a price too high to pay in any currency.
Given my lifelong preparation and culinary upbringing in Glasgow, Scotland I am surprised at my present lack of fortitude in these matters. Although not an overly ceremonial place, we did have certain cherished traditions when it came to spicy food. On the last Friday of the month it was typical to enjoy a fish supper, drink until closing time at the local pub, then eat Chicken Vindaloo with Poppadoms and chutney at midnight. Of course, these meals were always take-out, usually consumed outdoors within 100 yards of the premises, regardless of the weather. It’s fair to say that it’s more of a guy thing. (Hey Dave, remember your twenty-first birthday?).
Visiting many temples throughout Mysore, India, as you do, I was inclusively invited to pray to the Hindu gods Vishnu and Shiva. And with everything going on in the world today that merits an idolic plea, I must admit that it crossed my mind to footnote curry tolerance on my way out the door. Could be worth a try, I thought. Probably a very reasonable, albeit minor request given the broad scope, magnitude and severity of appeals these gods have to deal with. But I stuck with world peace, which, in my mind annexes poverty, disease and climate change. I’ll just have to go heavy on the yoghurt sauce tonight.