Recently, my husband sent me a video link of an Indian-origin boy, who left many surprised during Junior Masterchef Australia. The 13-year-old boy, Dev, left many including judges impressed on Masterchef’s sets with his desi meal and the top-notch presentation.
He delivered a platter of Lamb Mughlai Curry, with saffron rice, raita, chutney, and smoked chicken kebab, and the judges were delighted. But, it wasn’t only judges who were delighted. Many netizens came forward to applaud his cuisine skills.
And, while I was scrolling through the comments, it hit me hard. Though many Indian men were applauding Dev, how many of them still believe that it’s their mom’s or their wives’ job to cook for them. Sadly, that includes my husband too.
5 years back when we married, my husband hardly knew how to cook anything except Maggie, eggs, and tea. And, that too he would cook only in extreme situations. He used to expect his mom or me to give up on everything to feed him. And, whenever I asked him to learn how to cook for himself and his family, he and his mother would roll their eyes and throw their hands in despair.
My only argument was that cooking is a life skill and everyone needs to know how to – men or women. If I know how to invest in the stock market or change a tire or a fuse, then why can’t he learn how to cook. But, it wasn’t just about him learning a life skill, what disturbed me was the mindset that still saw me as lesser than him.
That’s what took me by surprise when he shared this video and applauded Dev’s cooking skills. At that time, Sridevi’s dialogue from her movie ‘English Vinglish’ hit me – “Mard khana banaye toh kala hai … aurat banaye toh uska farz hai”.
The man who took five years to come to the terms that he may have to cook once a week is applauding Dev for his cooking skills. And though, we may want to blame our society for men’s inability to see themselves as working in the kitchen, I would say parenting should also share the blame.
When this 13-year-old was asked about why he chose to cook these dishes, he said he prepared these cuisines as they represented his heritage that he’s proud of. He also said that he learned cooking from his mom Shuchi. Talking about his mom, this 13-year-old said:
“She’s my biggest inspiration. Everything she cooks is so flavourful.”
And, that’s what carries the strong message of parenting done right.
Many new generation parents are raising their kids in a gender-neutral atmosphere. It is much more important than ever that our kids are not limited by gender stereotypes. These parents divide domestic chores equally among themselves so that children can learn that there are no gender-specific roles at home. They are narrating stories of inspiring women and nonviolent heroic men to teach children there is no concept of the weaker sex.
These parents are the only hope for a better society, where men and women are treated equally; where we have men who don’t shy away from cooking and women, who don’t shy away from taking money decisions for the family; where domestic chores and raising kids won’t be seen as only women’s job.
While I wish luck to Dev for his future journey on the show, I hope many more men would seek inspiration from him. Hope we would see more men shattering the social norms and would become equal partners to their wives in life and in the kitchen.