Acquired taste

In one of my interactions, I told a colleague that our job is to move things from fantasy to reality. They all had a good laugh. After that the meeting became objective and ended with some actionable items. The other day I was showing a paper cutting to my wife and asked her to read. Riyaaaz Khairabadi writes , ‘Har Shaks mahshar-e-khayaal hai/ Zara pooch uss se, kya haal hai‘ – Every individual is a cataclysm of thoughts/ Just ask, how’re you? My wife looked at me and asked , ” When did you start loving Urdu”?

On another day my daughter was not keen on tasting something new while we were having lunch. These are occasions where I have to bring out some insights from my repertoire. I told her that you have to keep on trying new things so that you will acquire new tastes. After having said that I had to think and back myself with things in my life I had tried and now made natural. That led me to compile a list of things over the last two decades of my life, which I hated initially and then started embracing it and now have become part of my living reality.

Reading Books

After leaving my hometown nearly 27 years back, I believe in life we keep getting new experiences and that is the way you acquire new tastes. The simple meaning is ” a thing that one comes to like over time”. The only book that I had on my bookshelf was ” Catch 22″ and I never read it. I think that too was given by someone. I was always fascinated with the idea of learning new words, acquiring proficiency in a language, and building a rich vocabulary. It did not happen til I met a group of like-minded individuals who instilled in me the idea of reading. I recollect that moment vividly when we had got into that place- a cafe that sold books, to have a Franke and out came with the book titled, ” Drive”. My friends encouraged me to read it. While I must confess that I read it in parts but I liked the author Daniel Pink and in later years I watched a lot of his videos and also bought his books. There was one thing that I learned from that book and that I have seen with some of the great leaders with whom I have worked was this simple idea from that book.

Food Choices

I was brought up in a family where the ultimate word was, ” Eat whatever we make”. I slowly extended my life to ” I will eat whatever except paneer and rajma (kidney beans)”. These were two things which were a strict no after marriage. I hated it so much that I used to go on a hunger strike. Maybe because I had a lot of other cool choices which were available and therefore these two were released down the order. But it was during my trips that I was faced with limited choices and I had to succumb to the tastes of the two. Initially it was a great deal of discomfort. When I eat at home, I still remember the way my daughter put out that wry smile when my plate was full with the two. As they say, acquired tastes become dominant and recently I went to a restaurant and ordered dishes made of the above two. I recently saw a video where they mentioned that acquired taste goes beyond our taste buds to psychology, evolution, and means of survival. I felt that this is the ultimate truth of acquired taste.

Acquiring Habits

In the last two decades, I also got an opportunity to look at my habits that have changed. Today getting up early in the morning, meditating, journaling, and then walking and sleeping early are acquired tastes. There was conditioning in mind that I was a night owl and not a morning lark. Early birds are called morning larks. It was after getting hold of the 5 AM club book that I set a small target each day to get to 5 AM waking. The incentive I envisaged was to have a cup of coffee and experience the morning breeze from the balcony. I started enjoying that pattern and that was the psychological hook. So far I have been meditating for 10 – 15 mins and this too came along when I was in search of which type of meditation was the best for me. It was only when I saw a quote, ” The best form of meditation is the one you do” that injected a dose of reality and made me ‘ Do’ meditation. I have enjoyed every form of writing be it scribbling on small notes, typing on iPhone notes, and these days using a stylus on iPad. The real challenge was to consistently journal every day. I even bought a high-priced journal when my sister came from the US but that didn’t help me with the cause. The real benefit happened when I had to search for some events and I started looking at some of my old dairies and reading it was an enlightening experience. I agree with Christina Walden who said, ” journal writing is a voyage to the interior“. After going through the above three for some time now I have understood that if you stack them back to back it becomes easier to implement as a system in your life and it can form a new habit. As James Clear says in Atomic Habits “you become your habits.

Let me end with an Urdu poet lyricist Qamar Jalalabadi who nicely put it , ‘Nikal pada ghar se aur sabka ho gaya / Sab mein mila mujhe jo mera hi hissa tha’ – I ventured out and became a part of the vast crowd / In every one I found something that was a part of me.

Books, Food, and habits are my experiences of acquired tastes and I am sure there could be other facets of life where we all have acquired tastes. If you don’t use “This acquisition of new tastes” you lose it. So this pursuit of acquiring new tastes continues. But I must confess one thing, ” I still do not like Pumpkin soup”. I will let you all know once I acquire it and I can safely declare do this virtue signalling…

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