A Calmer You, By Sonal Kalra: Is that food on your plate?

We love debating about food, what if your food started debating back with you….
Half of us are watching TV while we eat. The other half have their phone in one hand, while they eat with the other. As I write this, I can see a toddler whose maid is putting a bite in his mouth, while the kid is transfixed to a YouTube video playing a rhyme.
Half of us are watching TV while we eat. The other half have their phone in one hand, while they eat with the other. As I write this, I can see a toddler whose maid is putting a bite in his mouth, while the kid is transfixed to a YouTube video playing a rhyme.
Updated on Dec 15, 2018 05:01 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | BySonal Kalra, New Delhi

This week I came across two unrelated news items, which still had something common at the core. The first, of course, was the notorious video of a delivery guy of the online food app, Zomato. He could be seen sneakily eating away spoonfuls from a packet before quickly ‘resealing’ it and presumably delivering it to an unsuspecting customer. And the second was about an order passed by a court, directing the government to keep a check on the colossal wastage of food that happens at big, fat weddings. As I said, these two are unrelated news, and this week’s column isn’t directly about either of them. But the hot debate around them shows how obviously strongly we feel about anything related to food.

“What does the court have to do with how many dishes I serve at my daughter’s wedding? If I can afford it, I would like to serve chhappan bhog,” growled a neighbour. Now, I’m all for debating, and wanted to give him a big lecture about how vulgar it is to waste food. But my instincts told me to steer clear of any discussion that has a reference to either of the two numerological values — fifty-six and ‘pichhatttis’. So I just told him about how there are several NGOs that collect the extra, fresh food from wedding functions and distribute them to those in need.

READ | A Calmer You, by Sonal Kalra: Know someone with an irritating habit?

When the debate, however, shifted to the Zomato guy’s deed, the aggression in the differing views of the participants got rather intense. “What he did was so unethical, he was stealing,” shouted Mr Nair. “It was just food, Nairji. Does his act make you realise how his job doesn’t even provide him two square meals a day? This greedy corporate culture, I tell you,” yelled Naghma, taking it out on the treadmill. I had conflicting emotions about this one, so even before I could open my mouth, the petite Prerna had the last word — “Dekho khaya toh theek hai, but spoon se jootha nahi karna chahiye nah. It’s so ewww.” The debate ended.

READ | A Calmer You, by Sonal Kalra: Oh, how we love celebrity weddings!

Coming back to my original point — no matter what our age, stage, ideologies, religion are — we are touchy about food, and everyone has a view on everything related to it. We love watching food shows on TV, we are self-made restaurant critics, we love posting food pics on Instagram, we get all nostalgic talking about maa ke haath ka khana. But do we ever really pay attention to the way we consume the same food that takes so much of our mind space? It may seem like a trivial thing, but I do have something to crib about the manner we disrespect the very food that we claim to be slogging our a** off to earn. If you want proof, close your eyes and recall the last meal you had. Half of us are watching TV while we eat. The other half have their phone in one hand, while they eat with the other. As I write this, I can see a toddler whose maid is putting a bite in his mouth, while the kid is transfixed to a YouTube video playing a rhyme. We’ve forgotten to pray, we’ve forgotten to thank, we’ve forgotten to relish. And I’m not being preachy, I totally mean the use of the phrase ‘we’ here, because I’m as guilty of each one of the above. So, while we can continue debating issues related to food, just imagine that your food is talking back to you and requesting for these small promises. I will try to fulfil, will you?

1) I promise to not eat my food mindlessly, while I indulge in some other parallel activity. It takes around ten minutes to finish a meal. My world, no matter how busy, will have to wait while I take out those ten minutes to pay attention to what is on the plate before me.

2) I will never gulp down food in a hurry while walking or rushing somewhere. I will give it the respect — and the posture — it deserves.

3) I will remember that every food item that goes inside my body has been made with the collective effort, love and labour of so many people — right from the farmers that grew it to the person who made it like an artwork, using so many ingredients. Whether I am eating at home or at a restaurant, I will be conscious of that effort, and of the fact that I’m lucky to be on the receiving end of it.

4) No matter what religion or faith or culture I may subscribe to, there has to be a way to say ‘thank you’ to it. And I will make sure that I will say that thank you.

Sonal Kalra just had to retype a big portion of this column. She mistakenly kept her sandwich on the backspace button. Mail your thoughts to her at sonal.kalra@ hindustantimes.com or facebook.com/sonalkalraofficial. Follow on Twitter @sonalkalra

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Tuesday, November 30, 2021