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Not a spoon, show me the tap

open page spoon colour 200714

open page spoon colour 200714   | Photo Credit: surendra

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It’s crazy how difficult it is to find restaurants that read “Indian” in India. Especially in the metros, where you can easily spot Chinese, American, Italian, Mexican, Thai and a myriad other cuisines but will have to do some legwork to land in a good Indian restaurant.

Luckily enough for me, we did spot a nice restaurant which, though not really Indian, offered some great Indian dishes. The only thing that was standing between me placing my orders and me digging in was the one-hour waiting time. I learnt one hour is actually not a big deal, which came as a shock because down south, if the waiter is going to take more than 10 minutes, there are going to be words exchanged.

A plate full of steaming rice and mouth-watering chicken gravy arrived at our table, with one extra item I hadn’t asked for. A spoon. Maybe for serving, but why one for each plate, wouldn’t one large spoon do? As I was contemplating this, I could hear the cling clang of spoons hitting china. Rice? With a spoon? From a plate? Well, no thanks. I am a typical South Indian who grew up eating with fingers. My mom taught me to do so, my grandmother taught me to do so and I’ve practically aced the skill of graceful eating with the food touching the fingers, but never the palm.

But now I’m asked to throw tradition out the window and eat with the spoon! I would have consoled myself and accepted my predicament if I was at least given a bowl. But here I am with a flat utensil and a spoon to pick food from it. No way! So I just nudged the one next to me and asked where I would find the wash. It was then I was given “that” look. The look which told me I wasn’t supposed to ask for a wash there and that I would be given a finger bowl if some particles of food had managed to touch my fingers. I regretted ordering rice.

Acting as if everything was okay, I hid the real struggle I was having with my spoon pretty well. The pain only worsened when I saw several grains of rice sticking to the plate and when I realised my incapability to pick them up with the spoon. If only I had used my hand, I would have wiped the plate clean.

And then there is the South Indian wedding scene. While half the guests come to bless the couple, the other half come only because they’ve been invited and because they want to feast upon the biryani.

Comfortable seats, tens of servers running around with food, and the joy of eating on a banana leaf. Talk about bliss!

Now the tables have turned. Servers stand and we are the ones who move about with plates in hand to get ourselves a serving. Those are super-heavy plates which cannot be lifted and held for more than a few minutes unless you have significant biceps. I wonder, should I enjoy the food or have pity on my hurting arms or try to hold my anger as I look at the spoon? It has one advantage, though. It makes you want to get less on to your plate, thereby helping you stay true to your diet decisions.

I’m having a hard time putting up with this. Maybe I should go on an “anti-spoon” campaign where like-minded Indians can come together and do a display demonstration!

That sounds like a plan. But as of now, let me just wait for that day when restaurants will have signs saying: “Hands are allowed. Spoons not mandatory” and, “The wash is this way”.

>lynanu@yahoo.in

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 8:20:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/not-a-spoon-show-me-the-tap/article6229522.ece

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