On Dining Etiquette

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This article has been submitted by Aashna Dev for the CLATGyan Blog Post Writing Competition. If you think it’s a good read, ‘Like’ the article on Facebook (the button is at the bottom of this piece) or post a comment using the ‘Comments’ section below.

I was at a restaurant recently and I happened to notice a little boy sitting at the opposite table. He had finished his meal and had thoroughly enjoyed it. However, he had a confused look on his face. He was staring at the few titbits sticking to his fingers. Being an obedient son he turned to his father. ” Appa,(father) can I lick my fingers clean?”. His father stared at him as if his son  had just told him that he’d robbed a bank. He was immediately instructed to go and wash his hands. Even in the school canteen, I remember how my fellow mates would squirm and wriggle as they watched me lick my fingers and clean my plate.  By the look of it, it was quite clear that they had such intentions too but were a bit too timid to follow fashion.

Growing up in this beautiful country, filled with so many diverse cultures and traditions, one feels proud. However there are so many little rules of table etiquette that  just eat away the fun in life.

At home , I’d bravely and quite shamelessly  enjoy my food. But if a hot idli, vada or dosa was served to me in a five star hotel or outside India, I would pick up the fork and attack the piece of Idli and take the life out of it. And ultimately  it would fall out of the plate, much to my grief. When I see little kids being tied to their chairs with napkins and how they’d pick each grain of rice with a fork, I’d marvel at them. I wonder if their stomach’s are even filled after the meal. It looks as if they’re struggling and plodding through the meal rather than enjoying it.

My father once told me about an incident during his days at college. He and his friends had just settled down to eat, when the waiter brought them some finger-bowls. My father quite pleased to see the hot ‘soup’ with a piece of lemon, quickly drank it up, only to  be the butt of all the jokes that followed. Indeed, it is a must to know the basic rules of dining but must we go too far?

When I see the instruments of doom lying next to my plate I shudder in fear, scared to use it. But then I look at the poor fellow sitting opposite, attracting everyone’s attention with all the clattering noise of his fork and spoon, and feel much better. My favourite however is the buffet dinner. I pile on food in desired proportions while all the auntie’s and uncle’s gasp and look on with disgust. Then there  are the few ladies who would like to empty every vessel but whose plates are filled with salad and fruit.

There are innumerable such silly and quite senseless ‘food manners’. I love food and can never be disciplined by anyone to control myself. Thank god for me, my family does not believe in such rules either. I have always been taught to take whatever and how much ever  I need, and eat it the way I want to, never wasting and always content. I somehow do not quite understand these societal rules, which make  something  as simple as food and eating so complicated.  As for me, Id any day prefer eating with my own fingers, ruthlessly enjoying and relishing each and every bit of it.

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