The floor was swept, the room was cleared- a circle of tiffin boxes appeared. The aroma of food filled the air as we all opened our boxes. The box lid became a plate, where every teacher in the circle put out some food and passed it around. There was some discomfort as I followed suit- one of them asked, “Are you sure you will eat with us?” “Of course!” I said as I passed around some of my food. We exchanged compliments and some recipes- the tension eased out. Teachers were curious about what we cook at home, whether we enjoy living in Cuddalore etc. “ Don’t you add salt to your rice?” asked a teacher. I shook my head and she continued, “We add a bit of salt as we cook rice- that way rice in itself will have a bit of taste and we will all consume less of the kozhambu (gravy) – even chilli and buttermilk tastes good when rice is cooked with salt” Lunch bell rang, the boxes were cleared, boxes washed, teachers back in class – I left school that day, having learned much more than what I set out to teach; left with a greater respect for all the strategies our people use, to survive their circumstances.