Skipping steps rarely gets you where you want to go. I was once in a short relationship with a friend from college. We shared an easy friendship for nearly two decades before jumping into a different affair. We didn’t date. We didn’t get to know each other as lovers. We didn’t give romance a chance. We skipped about a 100 steps and thought we would get from First Kiss to First Anniversary, scot-free. And so it ended the only way it was going to. Painfully.
Much as I want to feel better right now, there really is no quick way to get there from here. A couple of clever writers have even distilled this process into 5 stages – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance. I have a slightly different list of my own:
- I’m cool, it happens.
- Not again! It must be me.
- Can everyone just leave me alone?
- What the fuck!
- And then, slowly, the acceptance that the person who I have made the cause of my pain felt he had no choice but to choose what he did. There was no betrayal.
Dealing with pain comes with its own treasure map. You need the first clue to get to the next. It simply isn’t possible to skip steps and still get to the treasure. But not every step of the way needs to be an angst-ridden exercise. It especially helps if you find people and places along the way that make you question your story. Like I did tonight, when I treated myself to the 12-course Christmas menu at Masque.
There are no shortcuts at Masque. So whether it was launching a tasting menu-only restaurant in India; sourcing persimmons in Uttarakhand and Pecorino in Puttaparthi; or redefining what fine dining is in a city where the experience began and ended with Zodiac Grill’s white gloves, Masque hasn’t skipped any steps on its way to being recognised as one of the best restaurants in the country.
In order for me to accept what is, I needed to take a break from the constant storytelling my mind insists upon. And the meal tonight proved to me, yet again, that there’s nothing quite like some really diligent cooking to snap me out of myself.
For when the Goan sausage doughnut arrives, it is impossible to think about anything other than the genius of the dish that was inspired by the humble paniyaram. Or when you come face to face with micro mini red Kashmiri apples alongside an unctuous eggplant ice cream (romanced by tamarind), only a decidedly stubborn person can remain forlorn. Every course grounded me further, reminding me that all that matters is this moment and how I choose it.
I have never had a better partner than a delicious meal. And as long as not skipping any steps means I have help from meals at Masque, then let this take the time it must.