There was a phase in my life when attending camps and conferences was so often that my mother wondered if I was still legally working full time for the IT firm that had employed me! Everytime we had a talk I told her of where I’d travelled to and all the people and challenges I’d faced at the camp.

One of the real challenges was, believe it or not, the food that they served at these camps. Now, almost all these camps were self-sustaining, and economy and good sense was called to the fore, when planning for the location and services for the camp. More often than not, the spiritual feasting far outweighed the physical by a great degree. 🙂 However, I understood a teensy bit of what it meant to host someone, when my home was where all the womenfolk bunked down during a mini-training camp. AND, when their breakfast became my responsibility. Nothing like wearing someone else’s shoes to understand the planning, need and skill that went into something so seemingly simple and basic. It made me more accepting of humble fares (and being more far sighted in taking my own cookies and khakras along), and it also opened my eyes to be a better host!

It was 3John 1:6-8 that made me reconsider my blasĂ© attitude toward hospitality, with the command in verse 8 “We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth.” hitting home hard! There’s more in Romans 12:13 “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Hospitality is an inescapable part of building God’s Kingdom! So, whether it’s for another mini-camp at home, or just a snack to enjoy over a hot piping cup of chai with friends, I was ecstatic when Miriam chechi (MC) allowed me to choose Poha (a flattened rice dish eaten as a snack in Nothern India) as the breakfast that morning when all the guys went to the NY Auto show. Out came half a large onion sliced quite thin. This was followed by a medium sized potato, peeled,  and I was surprised to hear that it had to be sliced as thin as the onion. A large colander was 2/3rds filled with the poha (to feed roughly 6 people), that was washed till all the powdery substance went off. Salt and turmeric, I think were the only additions. Diced green chillies provided the can’t-do-without Indian flavour – spice. Mix well, please.

In the frying pan the onions went in when the splattering mustard seeds quietened down, and just as they lose their transparency, add in the potatos and the poha mixture, cover up and cook till the potatos are done. Garnish with lime juice, peanuts and coriander. It wasn’t a big hit with the guys generally used to idlis and dosas for a “traditional” breakfast, but it did raise cereal-breakfaster, Austen’s curiosity enough for him to ask MC “what is that?” Maybe some day, people might actually eat something I’ve made with something approaching relish. Till then, camps, get ready for some poha power!

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