This is a sad but true story.
Even though I did not have a mechanical dishwasher for more than half my life, doing dishes was by far my least favorite chore. On my first job at the UIUC cafeteria, my supervisor gave me a cafeteria sink worth load of dishes to do by hand, with standing water filled to the brim, of pasta pots, pizza pans and industrial sized mixers. And, no, there were no gloves or aprons for the dishwasher. So much for my carefully executed manicure – I cried my eyes out when I got home at the end of my shift.
Dish washing by hand still remains my least favorite domestic chores. Sadly, 10 days ago, our wonderful hard working dishwasher called it quits and I took its place. Factory recall, so, I am waiting on the tech to show up. We dislike eating out every day, so my days were filled with planning each meal, with just what I needed. After washing every single spoon and fork and tool and pot by hand, I realized that I *needed* only about 12 things - the rest is practically useless for a household of 2. Will I be able to get rid of it all? Goodness no. I am into food related things and writing cookbooks, remember? That won’t change, but my outlook has.
Being limited to what I used meant I have not been cooking a whole lot but only what we needed to eat for that meal. We are back into making simple and quick one and two pot dishes and cleaning each one after each meal. I evaluated how each meal was prepared, whether I *need* to use serving bowls and 6 kinds of forks and glasses - or if a pre-served plate is good enough. Special ocassion - yes but not everyday! I made traditional dishes that my mom makes, because she does not have these appliances in India – they still are at the mercy of unreliable domestic helpers. I even got to test out two of my sauces - and that was such a time saving treat! (Cant wait to share them with all of you!!!)
But, as a family, we debated this situation at home this weekend - thinking back to the simpler times when the conveniences did not exist and life was more 'domesticated'. As students when we first came to the US, we often used our dishwashers to store clean dishes, not use it as an appliance or convenience. Is that silly? No! Dishwasher detergent was expensive for graduate students on a limited stipend. Was that a good thing? Was that a good time? Not really - our lives are fuller now because of all the goals we are able to achieve, of the freedoms we have to chase dreams, tasks and explore our own potential. But we cram more too into our days under the guise of progress and growth and more importantly what we think as luxury.
So really, what does this mean? It means doing something worthwhile and meaningful - something that impacts and more importantly makes someone else’s life - better. Be it family, neighbor, community or country or greater, i.e., looking at one’s life as being greater than ones physical self. Being the boss means one can ‘delegate’ tasks and get someone else to do the work. But being a conscientious individual who recognizes that they are part of a complex and dynamic co-dependent ecosystem, where other human lives matter - is even more important. Recognizing small things as well as the big things and making them all matter, making each day count - is the real luxury.
So, here is to hoping that my dishwasher gets fixed today (no, seriously because I still dont like doing dishes by hand).
But, I AM eager to get back to doing what I love – finding ways to nourish both body and soul and making each day count. Making it better for one person at a time.
I have been given the luxury of changing the definition of how 24 hours of each waking day are spent. Have you?