When we were invited by Navdanya to be a part of a delegation to Terra Madre 2010 conference on Slow Food, we were excited, but in all honesty, we didn’t know what to really expect. So we went with no grandiose expectations, just our faith in the larger design of the maker, in the faith that we’d be true to the spirit of the convention, and that we would return enriched.
We were not let down by our faith at all! On the contrary, any trepidation we might have had was simply washed away.
Terra madre was not just a conference…it was a confluence of delegates from across 160 nations, each imparting & vitally contributing to the larger goal of preserving mother earth, of soil & seed sustenance, of getting back to the roots, of getting back to traditional methods of farming, cooking, eating and living so that mankind may survive the havoc of its own doing.
Mr Carlo Petrini, the founder of the Slow Food Movement, in a moving & inspiring speech urged the youth of the world to stand up to the challenge of combining traditionalism with modern scie nce & technology. He said, “We must not ignore the natives, the indigenous groups, the elderly and the women of our societies for they are the ones who pass traditions from one generation to the next.” His speech was a re-affirmation of our work & ethos at PRITYA where we endevaour to document culinary traditions.
The next three days were full of seminars and presentations and it was not an easy task to decide which ones we should attend. Very often we would find ourselves wanting to attend more than one event at the same time. The rich content, the ardent speakers and the excellent simultaneous translations made it an enriching experience.
Terra Madre was also a splendid example of selfless community spirit. It was as if the entire city of Torino and all its neighboring provinces & towns came together to make it happen. Every worker at the 4 day confluence was a volunteer, a citizen of the city who gave his or her time, energy & effort willingly and completely to the event. They were there at the registration counters, baggage counters, food buffets, in the buses that shuttled us from our respective houses to the conference venue every day, at the headphone counters, and at every other step. Many of them were senior citizens and we were truly impressed by their agility and cheerfulness.
At a personal level, it was an eye-opener & a heart warmer like nothing else, ever. Every delegate was assigned to stay with a local, Italian family in the surrounding provinces of Torino. One can only imagine the kind of organization and community spirit that needs to go into doing this successfully. First the families need to volunteer, then they have to be okayed by the organizers, then the delegates have to be allotted to the various families (2 delegates to a family). Each family is given a brief CV of the delegates who will stay with them, their food habits; for instance, some are vegetarian, some have food allergies, some have ailments like BP or diabetes, so on and so forth. Then buses to and from the venue have to be organized. Pick up & drop off points to the various towns/villages, the mayors of each precinct directly communicating with the families. Oh, the list can go on & on. As if this was not enough, an evening party was hosted by the town of Pinerolo for delegates and the families at the town square club!
On the first day, we were a bit apprehensive! We’d never done this before! We’ve stayed with friends, but never with strangers in a new country, with language barriers, away from the rest of the delegates. But we were engulfed by love, sharing , merriment, joy. Our hosts were a beautiful family of five –Giorgio & Raffaella, their children Alice (age 6), Sofia (age 4) & Fabio (age 15 months) & their cats Mirtilla & Pallina. It was a house out of a fairytale, a family out of a fable and the town of Cumiana in the very lap of mother earth.
We are back home to our families and routines now. But not a moment goes without thinking of all the goodness of their lives that they so willingly & happily shared with us. Their generosity of gifts, time, space & love, their lovely, innocent children, their warmth & hospitality, their wonderful friends Ezio & Adriana…the list is endless. Thank you so much Giorgio & Raffaella, & may God always bless your home, your hearth & your lives. We miss Alice, Sofia & Fabio very much! We miss Mirtilla & Pallina too . Our families cannot believe what we tell them…that there are such wonderful people out there in the world….the beautiful world of Torina, and for us, especially Cumiana .
We are enjoying the pastas, pesto & cheese that you gifted us and helped us buy at Salon del gusto!! Adriana’s jams are delicious and Ezio’s honey fantastic! Raffaella, thank you so so so much for the breakfast bag that you sent through Giorgio for us along with the leviate & the polenta farina!!! You are very kind & sweet…and beautiful! Thank you for all the happy meals in your warm & happy kitchen . Giorgio, thank you for taking us to church & allowing us to pray with your community & hear you play the guitar, for driving us around every day, and for the fabulous coffee every morning!
Please do plan a trip to India and be our guests. Our world is not as quiet & beautiful as yours, but we will make it as comfortable & interesting as possible for you, our very dear friends….
And thus our hearts expand. We have come back with new friendships and so much more love in our hearts and a stronger understanding of the oft loosely used phrase “one world”. We, on this magnificent mother earth, are truly privileged to be part of a community called mankind, part of one world. May we learn to cherish, respect and sustain her bounty.
Posted by Jigyasa & Pratibha
Photo courtesy: Sunil Shenbag for pic 5 & 8, and Rushina Ghildiyal for pic 1, 3 & 4.
Click to read how we celebrated the Terra Madre Day on Dec 10, 2010.
Click to share URLs of Traditional, Indian Vegetarian recipes – a project inspired by Terra Madre & Slow Food.