Sunday, November 23, 2003

Signal and Noise from the Body

Signal and Noise from the Body

Enjoying my second day of peace and quiet in Jakarta. It is Sunday but it doesn't feel like one--a week-long holiday stretches out ahead.

Many of my Jakartaan friends are also trapped in the city too. In fact for some of them, they will be busier than usual because their maids have all gone home for Lebaran. They will have to do all household chores themselves for the week.

When I was a schoolboy, I used to looked forward to Lebaran or Hari Raya Puasa (as we call it in Malaysia) with eagerness. It gave us an opportunity to visit our Muslim teachers and friends and sample their delightful rendang and ketupat. I certainly hope schoolkids in Malaysia today still do that.

Maybe that was when I developed a liking for rendang. Even now, I always go for rendang whenever I eat at a nasi padang restaurant. It brings back pleasant memories of my schoolboy days, cycling to Kampung Baru to visit my Malay friends during Hari Raya.

Most of my Malaysian friends like nasi padang because it is closest to the type of Malay food we have in Malaysia. Sari Bundo at Jalan Juanda probably serves the best nasi padang in Jakarta. The Sederhana chain of nasi padang restaurant also serves pretty good Padang food and I often eat at the one in Sabang.

I won't consider myself a very health-conscious person. I normally let my body decide what's good and what's bad for me. I believe in Deepak Chopra's ayurvedic assertion that our body has the ability to self-balance itself to ensure good health. It will tell us through feelings of comfort or discomfort on what we should or shouldn't eat. The human body is a feedback control system.

Too much of something will cause discomfort. A bloated stomach from overeating is not a very pleasant feeling. Too salty or sweet a food causes us to feel thirsty. Too much alcohol makes us want to puke. We just need to learn to monitor and heed these subtle signs.

I suppose balance is the key to good health. The Chinese is always balancing food that is "heaty" with those that is "cooling"--the Yang and the Yin. Problem arises when we ignore the signals given out by our body and listen to our cravings instead.

The body has a "voice". And that voice is not the chorus of our cravings--that's deafeningly loud. Ignore it. The voice of the body is soft--it expresses itself through the subtle rhythms of comfort and discomfort. We need to learn how to filter out noise (our cravings) from the real signal that our body is trying to convey.

I have a desire to have nasi padang for lunch now. Is that a signal or a noise? Well, that's a tough one.

No comments: