Remember the time when you saw guys at work order in the most delicious-looking keema (or whatever) for lunch? And you with your dabba of sad roti, sabzi & dal found yourself salivating all over? And the next day you ordered the same keema, only it didn’t taste so delicious anymore. It tasted just about OK and was floating in oil (or dalda if you please), so you felt stuffed & bloated until hours later.
Yup, today is that day! So while we’re discussing delicious keema, I want to discuss a food-related attitude that stems essentially from the cultural difference between the East & the West. Well, it stretches to other aspects of life as well but let’s limit our discussion to food here.
You know what cultural difference I’m talking about?
Individualism vs Collectivism. West vs East. Have your keema mostly by yourself vs share it with everyone around & get only a bite to eat yourself.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not selfish. The only food items I’m possessive about are brownies & cheesecakes. I’ll even share my chocolate with you! But if I order something for myself, I like to get to eat the most of it unless I went in with the understanding that I’ll be splitting it with someone.
I get bugged when you’re expected to share everything you're eating with people at work. If you don’t, then you’re snooty, you have an attitude problem ya di ya da. Which, according to me, is just plain stupid. I’m like, “Hello, if I’ve ordered this it means I’m hungry. If you want to eat it too, go get your own!”
There’s this very collective, social mentality in India - we’re all one big happy family etc. As opposed to the West where everyone gets what they want and minds their own business (and their food). They believe in making their lives simple.
Take for example the restaurants…they’ll always ask you if you’d like to split the bill (unless they’re a very high-end, expensive restaurant where etiquette demands you not act fussy about money. And the assumption is that if you're loaded enough to dine there, you can very well foot the entire bill). So each person orders a dish, the restaurant splits the bill & everyone pays for what they ate. Unlike India where people order collectively and when it’s time to pay the bill, there’s unnecessary confusion on how much each one would need to pay, and someone or the other always feels short-changed at the end of it all because they either didn’t get their change back or they paid for more than they ate because you the bill is generally split equally, regardless of what people order. This is not an efficient system. I’m all for individualism. I’m all for eating my own food.