The grandmotherly-looking, warm, homely woman envelopes one with her no-nonsensical approach to food. Diet What is that she asks immediately. There is only one way of eating and that is through ethical, right foods. When you eat right, there is no such thing as a diet, says the lady who boasts of a whos who list of clients.
Hailing from a family of doctors and lawyers, Ms Venkat wasnt always like thispropounding correct foods. I was a typical traditional woman, who came to Mumbai after my marriage. With an M Sc degree under my belt, I was comfortable and thought myself worldly wise, says Ms Ms Venkat. After the birth of my daughter in 1964, I suddenly realised that I was not fully equipped to take care of this infant with my knowledge and what was horrifying was that the people around me and the experts were neither able to fill that gap. Give multi-vitamins to the infant, said doctors and elders alike. I did and my child spewed it out with such ferocity that I was alarmed. When I asked my doctor about the reason for giving it, he said it was essential. When questioned further, I was told it was essential and that was that. The child must be immunised, said the doctors. I did and she reacted badly and when I again went with my queries, the doctors retorted it was done under WHO recommendations. In short, who are you to ask why.
Three children and a decade later, Ms Venkat realised that she was armed with the same quiver of queries. It was then that I decided to go back to college and do a postgraduate course in nutrition. Her spouse was willing to support that search. After I enrolled at the Catering College in 1973, I realised that institutional knowledge wasnt really to be put to use. I took up a job at the college after my graduation and found that the kitchens there followed the minimum requirements of nutrition. My questions again met with no answers.
Is there a rebel in Ms Venkat, one wonders. Not quite, she says immediately. I thought that my efforts would be appreciated but found that when one is a job seeker, one has to perforce be subservient. Three years at my job and several such queries and stonewalling answers later, providence helped me through a deft blow that hurt horribly then. It so happened that I had to take leave from work due to some pressing family needs and when I came back, I was served a termination notice. I realised that was one effective method to get rid of me and my persistent queries. But I later realised the situation provided me with a glorious answer that has stood me all through. You cannot change a situation but must change your attitude and temper towards that situation. Believe me, my greatest growth came after this incident.
Another eight years went by before a very confident and satiated human being emerged with her knowledge to the public. I have now come to the conclusion, which I have tried and tested on myself, that human beings are meant to be fruitarians and that knowledge has triggered only good health and immense mental poise for me and those who practise it.
Is eating right only her principle to practice or is her family too with it There are no compulsions, she clarifies. I have, in my effort to eat right, shared my knowledge first with my family. But I havent force fed them. An individuals will and willingness is important. If, for instance, her grandchild were to have a hamburger, would she see red No way. It is an individuals choice but at the same time, given a tasty alternative, no one is blind enough to oversee that.
It must be a tough call inviting Ms Venkat home for her friends and acquaintances. She laughs. Food should be accepted when given. It makes up only 10 per cent of our existence but can immensely influence our attitude, thinking, et al. If given a cola or some fried foods at a home or a conference, for instance, I prefer to take a deep breath, be very peaceful about it and eat it slowly. But surely after the meal is over, I would help my hosts by telling them the immense benefits of eating the right food! You bet, you couldnt call Ms Venkat over and serve her chips and not let her have the last word. Make that the right bite.