Monday, April 23, 2018

How you ought to live - II

I had no idea that there was so much micro-managing possible when people set out to decide how other people ought to live. I was sort of relieved once I got to college, assuming that being told how I ought to live was all done and dusted now that I had succumbed to all that advice. How wrong I was.

I mean, fine, you sort of expect people to tell you what sort of job you ought to go into and all that. They have a vested interest in it - after all, if they are laboring to provide you with cars, they want to be sure that you would be laboring to provide them with food or some such thing. Nothing galls you more than to find that someone is happily living without working for it - it makes you feel such a fool for not finding a way to do it yourself.

Like I said, that would be fine, but what I did not expect was all this "How you ought to eat" and such. I mean, yeah, even when I eat with my hands, parents got into the act saying that I ought to eat with only my fingers and not soil the palm of the hand (except when it comes to Rasam Rice - I defy anyone to eat it only with his fingers if it is to be properly savored). AND to get it to streak all the way to the elbow and licking it from there up - that was a strict no-no. I sort of got the point - for, obviously, you end up getting the food all over the clothes that way and, in that day of no washing machines, it would be such a bother for your mother to wash them off.

You can understand my surprise when I found that it was not the way I ought to eat at all. Society - by which I suppose one means all those neighbors, peers and 'friends' who have nothing better to do than pass criticism on whatever you do - taught me I was doing it all wrong. How I ought to eat was, apparently, with a fork, knife and spoon. There I was, back to getting food-stains on my clothes (if you have found a way to balance that damn napkin so you keep all your clothes clean, enroll me in your correspondence course), wondering if dropping the food on my belly, instead of into it, would feed me by osmosis.

No point waxing lyrical about it. My experiences of chasing food all over the plate with a fork and hitting a pea for a six is chronicled elsewhere. Suffice to say that, over a long period of time when I dreaded the ordeal that every meal posed, I managed to eat without dropping food on myself not more than four to five times a meal. I wonder though at the vagaries of society. I mean, really, why would any rational society want me to waste my time learning skills which I would not really have needed if I could only use my hands? I probably keep them cleaner than the servant maid keeps my cutlery.

And then I get another shock. I go with a group of friends to a authentic Chinese restaurant and get handed a couple of sticks. Just as I was wondering whether I was supposed to duel with them to earn my lunch, and was eyeing the forks and spoons longingly, the other guys start picking up the sticks and shoveling food into their mouth with them. Great! I mean, really, I'd have thought eating was about the only thing I could do without great trouble and the world seemed to have gone to great...err...trouble to make it as troublesome for me as possible. Imagine having to learn to eat, all over again, every time you change restaurants!

Apparently, it is sophisticated to eat Chinese food the Chinese way; Western food the Western way. As I try to fork my masala dosa and carry it to my mouth without dropping the stuffing on my belly button, I wonder why the hell is it so unsophisticated to eat Indian food the Indian way?

Yeah, I know, very gauche of me but will someone explain that to me please?


  1. Hehe...all valid questions! I wonder if the top of this pyramid would mean eating Indian the Chinese way!