Ambi Iyengar, aka Ambi, left his home in his early twenties to pursue his career wherever his skills called him.
Ambi often visited his parents in the first few years, and then the frequency was reduced to once a year as he moved abroad.
Ambi’s mother was not a natural cook but learned the trade from her mother-in-law and her acquired interest to give the best “Iyengar food” to her family. She mastered so many dishes but what stood out was her “Rava Kesari” (a sweet dish made out of wheat, sugar, loads of ghee/pasteurised butter) and tons of love.
So whenever Ambi came home, this delicacy would be served, and his Mom would be eagerly waiting for his review and the appreciation that followed. Ambi enjoyed his mother’s food as we all enjoyed it. Still, something struck him years later when this ritual of waiting for the review continued. He saw this ritual happening all the time, whoever was eating his Mom’s Kesari.
He thought about it. It has become a muscle memory for his Mom that she would be at more than six sigma level in preparing this dish then why does she want the review all the time. What was she wanting? Attention or Validation?
Seeking Attention or Validation remains the core of every Human Being. There is Nothing Wrong with seeking this, but the degree to which you want either one or both determines your choice of actions in life, which can be detrimental in work, relationships, etc.
Returning to Ambi’s predicament, he went around asking the elders on his dad’s side of the family about his Mom’s cooking. When she came into the family, to see how she coped and learned, with the pressure in the mid-1970s where the women in the house had to have good cooking skills. There were no Swiggy or Lieferando then or “Hebbars Kitchen” videos on YouTube, or WhatsApp video calls with her mother 😊 to master the cuisine the family wanted.
He got the answer that she was a quick learner validating every time for salt or spices or sugar in whatever dish she cooked. Then Ambi thought, why did she ask the question on her Kesari to everybody?
Then Ambi went to his childhood classmate and his best friend, Swaminathan Iyer, aka Saama, and posed this question. Saama, without batting an eyelid, said I have been seeing this behaviour also with my mother-in-law (MIL). Saama continued, my MIL has been cooking since she was 16, often for large gatherings that her family hosted. She was a pro in many dishes, and one that comes to my mind in this context is her Bisi Bela Bath (a spicy, rice-based dish). It is in her muscle memory for sure.
Saama – I thought she asked me how the dish was in the first few visits because I am her groom, but it continued every holiday for the same dish. And it was not only me but whoever came to visit me, be it she knew them for decades. So after years, I mustered my courage and asked my wife about this behaviour, and she said that is the way her Mom is. So I thought to myself why she wanted so much Attention. I must ask my MIL.
Ambi listened intently and said if Attention or Validation is why Mom or your MIL needs, then it’s time we are aware of what all spectrum of being, other people want it.
Saama - quipped instantly; maybe that’s why Rashmi is quitting her job because I didn’t give much attention at work.
Ambi - maybe, it is worth looking at with a wink.
Saama - assuming it is true, we can analyse many situations/conversations, isn't it?
Ambi – True that.
Follow here where it leads Ambi and Saama to.
Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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