Indian food | Representational image

India@75 | Why I'm returning again and again to this myriad universe

My love for Indian food came first. Gurdial Singh from Kapurthala in Punjab travelled to Norway and established our first Indian restaurant back in the early 1980s.

He soon became my dear friend and introduced me to the most delicious food on Planet Earth.

At that time, most Norwegians were as scared of spice burns in our mouths as we were of poisonous snakes. The Norwegian kitchen could be summarised in one word -- boring.

Yes, we had some good fish, but only a little pepper and a grain of salt to make the menu interesting. What a delight it was when Gurdial and his family started cooking spicy veg dishes and garlic chicken, making naan and all the delicious Indian breads in their tandoori ovens!

The lovely food was a shortcut to a lingering relationship with the people and the land.

I started appreciating the wisdom of so many Indians.

As the chief negotiator in the peace process in Sri Lanka, I visited India every second month or so to discuss how we could jointly usher in peace in the island nation.

The Indian leaders, whether in politics or the military, the Congress or the BJP, shared their deep knowledge of Asia. Never ever did they betray us or the peace process. One of the heads of the Indian intelligence, with a tough demeanour, was so nice we nicknamed him Jesus for radiating goodness.

How can anyone interested in politics, religion, culture or nature not love India?

If you travel from one village to the other, you will relish a variety of food and traditions. They even believe in different Gods. How can anyone understand the universe that India houses?

India at 75 is a much better place than in 1947.

At that time, life expectancy in India was just above 30 and child mortality horrendous.

Few Indians could read or write.

And for sure, India didn't need the Brits to learn how to lay rail tracks as some admirers of colonialism still claim.

Backwaters of Kerala, Deserts of Rajasthan

India has a lot to celebrate this week - knowing that an even better nation is on the horizon!

From the backwaters of Kerala to the Himalayas, from the deserts of Rajasthan to the paddy fields of Andhra Pradesh - India is more varied than any other nation. Its population is young and dynamic. India is never boring. That's why I am returning, over and over again. And of course, not least to have the food Gurdial Singh introduced to me back then.

(Erik Solheim is the former Environment Minister of Norway and former Under Secretary of the UN. He was also chief negotiator in the Norwegian delegation which attempted to broker a truce in the Sri Lankan civil war)

The comments posted here/below/in the given space are not on behalf of Onmanorama. The person posting the comment will be in sole ownership of its responsibility. According to the central government's IT rules, obscene or offensive statement made against a person, religion, community or nation is a punishable offense, and legal action would be taken against people who indulge in such activities.