“From not knowing the language to publishing a book in it has been a long journey. I found myself clueless when I moved from Tanjore, the cultural capital of Tamil Nadu to the cultural capital of Kerala, Trissur. The only connection I had had with Kerala prior to the marriage was visiting the Guruvayoor Temple on many occasions. Language was a barrier for me.
At first, I used people’s body language to figure out what was being said. In three months, I had managed to learn the language to the extent that I could understand the majority of what was being discussed. Speaking in that language was another issue. I realized that when I taught my daughter, my dialect wasn’t easy for her to grasp. This affected her marks and I felt guilty. I started tuitions with my daughter’s teacher. Slowly, we both reached a level where I could understand what was taught at school and my daughter understood the gap.
While my language mission was moving uphill, I set another target for myself. I had noticed that my daughter would bring back whatever was packed for lunch. I started keeping a track of what food she liked and experimenting more with similar recipes. Soon, I had a list of recipes I could pack for her lunch, which she and her friends loved. When I had my son, I repeated this practice with him and found that both had similar tastes in food. By the time my daughter was in college, I had a large collection of recipes that they both enjoyed. I also realized that these recipes work best for children and are not as popular with the adults.
One day, one of my husband’s friends came home and couldn’t resist the aromas coming from my kitchen. He loved the food I cooked and asked me to write for a popular Malayalam magazine. The subscriptions of the magazine picked up with my regular recipes. I was soon writing for more Malayalam magazines. I sought the assistance of a lady who helped translate the Tamil-English recipes I wrote into Malayalam. These recipes were also well received and soon I got an offer to publish my own recipe book from a noted Malayalam publisher. The recipe book is in Malayalam and got a good response from foodies. The third edition of my book is on its way. I promote healthy cooking and eating, without using any preservatives. My recipes are a blend of traditional Grandma’s cooking presented in a way that children enjoy.
These days, I am working towards becoming more independent with the language. When I take a look at my life so far, I feel proud that though language was a big hurdle for me initially, I was determined to learn it for my daughter’s sake. Now, I pursue my passion in the same language that was a barrier once ”