Today, I am on the brink of completing my senior year dissertation on “Exotic and Natural Superfoods for great skin” when my thoughts shuffle between life back in India and the research paper.
As I pressed my lips together in a smoothing motion and stuck my finger in my mouth to avoid the lipstick from getting on my teeth, mother exclaimed “Beta why do you apply red lipstick at this age, you know na the first time I got my eyebrow threading done was on the day of my wedding?”
I hunt for ingredients commonly cited for glowing skin, and come across a write-up on how, in recent years, food- based cosmetics have gained popularity in the West. I scroll down further and find Turmeric as one of the top coveted ingredients, in fact the “Golden Latte” is currently trending.
Hold on, Haldi dhoodh minus the caffeine? If I was in India and mother saw how stressed I have been writing this paper till hours late in the night, she would have surely prepared this soothing, drink for me. This has been a hand me down Ayurvedic recipe for ages in India, to aid in sleep, cure sore throats, and even apply as a mask on the face for radiant skin!
Next on the list? Saffron. I reminisce mother’s pre-partition stories about dadi’s holiday home in Kashmir and her favourite beauty recipe of soaking Kesar strands in milk and then applying this elixir as the best face cleanser for a glowy, plumped complexion. Also, how can I forget Kheer - a rich rice pudding garnished with Almonds, Pistachios and Saffron. So yummy yet so healthy.
I then wonder whether following Mother’s gyaan about preserving natural beauty by substituting synthetic cosmetics with fresh ayurvedic products and recipes, till my “big day”, will in fact, eventually serve as redemption in the form of the ultimate nikhaar or glow?
As my finger hops from one open tab to another on my screen, I find a 2015 study by the USFDA concluding that there is no link between cholesterol and heart disease. I think of all the Nariyal (Coconut) Oils, Sarson (Mustard) Oils and Ghee that lost their space on Indian kitchen shelves, to low cholesterol, Mediterranean Olive Oils - only to prove dadi right, yet again.
I realize, ingredients of some of the best skincare products as well as diet recipes recommended today incorporate taken for granted wisdom passed down for many years and that have stood the test of time through direct observations of human beings in the Indian subcontinent, only after modern research has tested it on guinea pigs and validated or popularized it to a nutritional trend.
A moment of epiphany follows - my dadi could’ve easily written this dissertation.