watchings of idle hours 11 : the art of eating mindfully

Cultures can be widely different in their values and practices. But human emotions and individual human values have the elements of universality that transcend cultural differences.

When the tiny country of Japan became a world economic power post world war II, it came with its side effects.

Post retirement, salary man Takeshi Kasumi finds out that he had never stopped to appreciate the beauty of the park that he daily crossed on his way to office. What more, he had never imagined that the regular restaurants in his neighborhood would provide him with the richest experiences of his life and give him a new mission to defy his age.

Takeshi Kasumi is the protagonist of Netflix webseries ‘Samurai Gourmet’. The official introduction to the web series says, ” Recent retiree Takeshi rediscovers his passion for food and life by getting in touch with his inner warrior and eating what he truly desires. ”

But the web series is much more than exploring the cuisines of the locality. The series reveals that in the right context ordinary experiences can become extraordinary events of life. One of the episodes reminded me how a plate of half cooked rice and dal remains to this day my most relished meal of my life. I have shared about this experience in my blog post – a meal to remember and the journey.

If we are keen observers like the author of the series, human behaviour in the day to day ordinary events of life can provide deeper glances into the underlying patterns in human psychology and these patterns are universal in nature. Cultures can be widely different in their values and practices. But human emotions and individual human values have the element of universality that transcends cultural differences.

When Takeshi hesitates to ask for clarification about the the menu in the hotel for the fear of being considered a fool, or purchases more (even though he does not need) for fear of being considered stingy, it could immediately strike a chord in many of us, from whichever culture we may be.

In embarrassing situations, Takeshi finds inspiration from an idealized samurai warrior. Ironically and like any ordinary human being, he hesitates when it is time to act on his inspirations. Of course the issue gets resolved somehow.

Takeshi makes eating meditative, which of course enhances the experience. Even though the title is Samurai Gourmet – it is not a mere cookery or cuisine show. It is about exploring human experiences and interactions at the back drop of an old man’s food adventures in his locality.

This reminds me of another Japanese series titled ‘Midnight Diner – Tokyo Series.’ I have mentioned about the series in watchings of idle hours #5. This series too is not a cuisine show. Each episode is based on an independent short story exploring the lives of the ordinary Japanese.

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