The key to better connections

The key to better connections


I was fourteen when my mother left me at boarding school in India. I’m from South Africa and I was so far away from home. I made friends, and school was fun, but one of the things I missed most about home was my mom’s cooking. Not because hostel food was bad (I actually enjoyed it), but because there is something magical and comforting about your mom’s food that you tend to miss when you’re so far from home. I don’t know if I expressed this to my friends, but one day a friend of mine offered me her lunch that her mom had made for her.

“What are you going to eat then?” I asked.
She just smiled, shrugged and said, “Don’t worry.”

I spent two years with this friend at school, and almost every day she would hand me her lunchbox, and go to the school dining hall for her own lunch (which, might I add, was a difficult task because she wasn’t really allowed to be eating there). She didn’t have to give me her lunch, especially because I had nothing to offer her in return. Her mom’s food was too divine to be giving up, but she always did.

This memory got me thinking about the role that food, generosity, and bonding all have in our lives. Do we feel like offering food to someone we don’t like? No, right? How about when we have a crush on someone? We usually ask them out to come and eat with us. In times of crisis, the constant that most of us have in our lives is having dinner with the family, be it at the same table or over video call. When we love someone, we always ask, “Have you eaten?” So, in my mind, the ultimate form of generosity is sharing food, because food is what we all bond over.

So how can we cultivate a generous heart? Start by bonding with someone you don’t like over food. Open your heart and share what you have. You’ll see the bond form so fast and your own heart will grow. I speak from experience, because when I think back to this time in school, the strongest bonds I created were with those people with whom I shared food. Sharing food is an act of the heart, especially when you’re in a hostel and you have the urge to save all the yummy things to snack on at night when everyone is sleeping! But in our hostel, that’s not how it worked. We all opened up and generously shared what we had. In the process, we opened our hearts more and became generous in other ways in our relationships. It was a gateway to accepting people the way they are: listening to their stories, viewpoints, and hardships; laughing and crying with them; and truly understanding them, their needs, wants and dreams.

If this were the mentality in our everyday world, imagine how much closer we’d all be! In today’s world there is such a lack of vulnerability and openness in our relationships. We don’t communicate properly and enough. Generosity of the heart is that key to better connections, and sharing food is one key to becoming more generous.


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