Feeling Like Yourself Again
Lassi for the Pregnant in Jodhpur
It’s a late, late breakfast. The reason isn’t a long and lazy supper or too many cocktails on a roof the previous night. The reason is that I’m carrying a baby who is making me wretchedly, reliably sick several times a day and leaving me depleted, nauseous and not at all hungry.
Avoid spicy and fried foods, my pregnancy app says. Like some bad joke, it tells me this just as we’re landing in India. At mealtimes my husband is in clover, scarfing down curry after kebab and dosa after samosa. I am usually the first to the table, the queen of restaurant research, the last person to shy away from a new taste or a snack story to tell, but here I am off my game. Little makes me feel unlike myself like not wanting food. I shun intricately spiced dishes, gag at the thought of meat, manage a few weak spoonfuls of rice between periods spent on the bathroom floor, my head on the cold tiles. The woman who ate scorpions and drank fermented horse milk seems a long way away.
But here we are in Jodhpur and word is there’s a lassi we must try. I picture it and don’t immediately feel sick so we’re good to go. We hammer along in a sky blue tuk tuk that matches the city buildings, push and honk our way through hypercolor crowds out buying powders and water pistols for Holi. I focus hard on not being sick, though there’s no horizon to look towards for steadiness in the chaos of Jodhpur’s streets. By the clock tower there’s the lassi stop with open sides and a counter where a man with a fine mustache is ladling out plastic beakers of pale yellow whipped yoghurt. We find some space in the corner of the restaurant; we are dull in a room of ruby and rose saris. I spoon some lassi up tentatively. It’s spiced: black dots of cardamom, a taste of flowers, a smack of saffron. Next to me people are using oily fingers to pull apart snacks of curling green chillies that have been dough-dunked and deep fried. It would be appealing usually but today my limit is the lassi. I keep spooning. It’s sweet sweet sweet, cutting through the metallic taste in my mouth and the disappointment of my recent diet. I continue, I scrape the cup out. I feel soothed and settled.
A waiter comes, swinging a metal cup holder stuffed with twelve more lassis he’s passing around the busy room. He looks at me, waves the holder, makes a questioning face: ‘you want another?’
For the first time in some time, I consider it.