On my visit to India in 2008, one of the places that stood out the most was the bustling city of Bangalore. There was something about the pace and vibrancy of the streets that I loved. Apparently, I’m not alone, since the travel section of The New York Times published a story today on great places to see and flavors to try during 36 hours in Bangalore: http://travel.nytimes.com/2013/03/31/travel/36-hours-in-bangalore-india.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130330&_r=0
I was completely hooked when I first tasted Indian food in a small family-owned restaurant on the outskirts of Heidelberg, Germany. The flavors were intense, and I fell in love with the delicacies that came from the clay ovens. Ever since, I’ve sought out Indian restaurants when traveling (in the days when I lived in the small towns of West Lafayette, Indiana, and Greenville, NC, where Indian cuisine wasn’t readily available) and now in my own city of Birmingham, which is known for its continental fare. Yes, really.
Once I experienced cancer at 29 and underwent intensive chemo which stripped the lining of my mouth shortly after each treatment, though, Indian food and any other spicy or acidic fare created a problem. The minute I put something strong in my mouth, I could feel my taste buds swelling and my gums stinging. Almost twenty years since my initial bout with breast cancer, I still suffer the repercussions of savoring something delicious that is too harsh for my traumatized mouth.
This condition followed me throughout India–from Hampi to Chennai to Delhi to Mumbai–forcing me to stick to the cool creamy taste of fresh yogurt raita and basmati rice for many meals. Despite the pain (and hunger, at times), I wouldn’t have given up the chance to experience India for anything. I’ve become accustomed to the idea that my body’s memory of cancer will simply accompany me wherever I go.